by WorldTribune Staff, May 15, 2017
Kim Jong-Un was on hand and “hugged” his rocket scientists after what North Korean media hailed as the successful test of a “medium long-range” ballistic missile that is capable of carrying a heavy nuclear warhead.
The jubilant North Korean leader promised more nuclear and missile tests and warned that Pyongyang’s weapons could strike the U.S. mainland and Pacific holdings, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on May 15.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. needed to “stop scaring” the North Korean regime.
Some analysts, including officials in Tokyo, estimate that the May 14 launch successfully tested a new type of missile, potentially the longest in North Korea’s arsenal.
KCNA called the missile a “new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket,” and said the “Hwasong-12” was “capable of carrying a large, heavy nuclear warhead.”
The rocket, “newly designed in a Korean-style,” flew 490 miles and reached a maximum altitude of 1,310 miles, the North said, and “verified the homing feature of the warhead under the worst re-entry situation and accurate performance of detonation system.”
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said more analysis is needed to verify the North’s claim on the rocket’s technological features. Spokesman Moon Sang-Gyun said it’s still unlikely that North Korea has re-entry technology, which would return a warhead safely back into the atmosphere.
Putin, speaking in Beijing, said nuclear tests of the type that Pyongyang had been carrying out in recent weeks were unacceptable, but that a peaceful solution to rising tensions on the Korean peninsula was needed.
“I want to confirm that we are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear powers, including with the Korean Peninsula and North Korea,” said Putin, who said any such move would be “harmful and dangerous.”
“But at the same time, we understand that what we have observed in the world recently, and specifically flagrant violations of international law and incursions into the territory of foreign states, changes in regime, lead to such kinds of arms races.
“We need to return to dialogue with North Korea and stop scaring it and find ways to resolve these problems peacefully.”
The Russian leader said he thought such an approach was possible because of what he called “the positive experience” of holding talks with Pyongyang in the past.
“If you recall, there was a time when North Korea announced it was suspending this kind of (nuclear) program, but unfortunately certain participants in the negotiations process did not have enough patience. I think we need to return to this.”
Putin said he was briefed by his defense minister after North Korea’s latest missile test.
“This missile launch presented no threat to us, but it of course escalates this conflict and there is nothing good about that.”