North Korea fired off a ballistic missile into the East Sea from Banghyeon North Pyongan Province early Sunday, according to South Korean officials.
South Korea’s military is analyzing exactly what type of missile it was but there’s a strong possibility that it was a midrange Musudan type, according to officials.
North Korea has test fired a total of eight Musudans, but only one was successful last June.
South Korea’s joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile flew about 310 miles. Estimates vary over how far this mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile could travel, but at its best the Musudan would be able to reach U.S. military bases in Guam.
Analysts in Seoul have been expecting some sort of military provocation ahead of late Kim Jong-il’s birthday on February 16 and the largest ever joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea scheduled to begin in two weeks.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House says the presidential security director Kim Kwan Jin has spoken with President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn over the phone following North Korea’s missile test launch.
According to the statement, the two officials strongly condemned the launch and agreed that the countries will explore every possible way to suppress North Korean provocations.
The launch today comes only two days after President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe strongly urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and not to take any further provocative actions.
In a brief joint statement with Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Saturday night, Abe called the missile launch “absolutely intolerable.”
“North Korea must fully comply with the relevant U.N. security council resolutions,” he said.
Abe, who has spent the weekend with Trump in South Florida and had private meetings today, said that he and the president were dedicated to working together and strengthening their alliance.
Trump echoed the Japanese prime minister, saying, “The United States of America stands behind Japan a great ally 100 percent, thank you.” Trump gave no further remarks, and neither leaders answered questions from the press corps.
U.S. Strategic Command spokesman Lt. Colonel Martin O’Donnell said the North Korean missile was a medium or intermediate range ballistic missile. It was not an ICBM as North Korea had warned in early January it was close to testing.
O’Donnell told ABC News that they are still assessing what type of missile was launched. A Musudan is an intermediate-range ballistic missile, but it could have also been a medium-range ballistic missile, he said.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary said the missile did not land in Japanese territorial seas. Yoshihide Suga said that Abe was notified and ordered that intelligence be gathered about what had occurred, and to check on the safety of navigation of flights and ships.