White House Official Confirms Discussions on S. Korean Missile Defense

Pauline Gross
June 18, 2017

Pyongyang on Friday hailed the successful test of a new type of surface-to-ship cruise missile, which it said was created to hit "any enemy group of battleships" that threatened North Korea.

Under third-generation leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has been conducting such tests at an unprecedented pace in an effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the mainland United States.

North Korea additionally tested the Pongae-5 surface-to-air missile system successfully in May, with Kim Jong-un declaring that the system had reached initial operating capability.

"Our military has strengthened surveillance and alertness readiness in cases of additional provocation by North Korean military and is maintaining all readiness posture while we are tracking and monitoring related situation", the official said.

"North Korea likely wanted to show off its ability to precisely target a large warship, in relation to the joint military drills involving US aircraft carriers", Roh Jae-cheon, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman told a media briefing.

Last month, North Korea debuted a new midrange missile that flew higher than missiles they previously tested, according to outside experts.

"I would not say we are comfortably ahead of the threat", said Syring, acknowledging the surprising progress that North Korea has made in developing the range of their missile forces.

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A senior USA government official also forecast that the North will likely be ready to test-fire an ICBM within the year. "It will pose a considerable threat to United States and South Korean navies", he told AFP.

"North Korea fired multiple unidentified projectiles, assumed to be surface-to-ship cruise missiles", the defence ministry said, adding the short range missiles flew some 200 kilometres (124 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan. "North Korea is poised to conduct its first ICBM test in 2017", Robert Soofer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, was quoted by the Japanese Kyodo news service as saying at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

There was no immediate official reaction from China to the latest missile test.

However, the cruise missile firing do not violate U.N. Security Council resolutions against the North, which ban launches using ballistic missile technology.

Rand Corporation defense analyst Bruce Bennett told VOA that the missiles in Thursday's test were probably too small to be able to carry a nuclear warhead. Pyongyang said it would continue with missile tests until the US makes the right choice, suggesting an openness to dialogue.

China has called on Pyongyang to suspend its testing while calling on the United States to stop military exercises on and near the Korean Peninsula, which North Korea sees as a threat to its sovereignty.

The latest launch "was aimed at showing off various missile capabilities and antiship precision strike capability", a spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff told media.

Other reports by GizPress

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