The Oasis Reporters
September 15, 2017
US and South Korea say intermediate-range ballistic missile was fired east from Pyongyang.
Russia and China have been urged to take ‘direct action’ over North Korea missile launch
Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, says North Korea is gaining greater capability with each missile launch:
“I understand it was an intermediate-range missile test but we are informed that it did fly further than previous tests”.
The North Korean regime has carried out over 80, nearly 90, illegal ballistic missile tests and it seems that on each occasion it gains greater capability.
That’s why it must be deterred from carrying out any further tests. And Australia will continue to work with the international community to exert maximum pressure on North Korea in economic terms to make it change its behaviour”.
North Korea has been ramping up it’s provocations in recent months – and today’s missile launch was the longest flight it has managed.
In July, Pyongyang tested its first intercontinental ballistic missiles (this latest launch is thought to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile).
In August, after US president Donald Trump vowed “fire and fury” against the regime, North Korea fired a missile over Japan, an exercise it repeated today with even greater range – some 800km further than the previous launch, Japan said.
And in early September, Pyongyang conducted its most powerful nuclear test so far.
Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert from Renmin University said Beijing would feel frustrated and embarrassed by Friday’s launch and Kim Jong-un’s endless missile launches: “China is also worried since it can’t keep control of North Korea’s tests.”
He predicted that China would stick to its current stance of calling for calm and dialogue rather than pursuing any more dramatic course of action.
In the longer term, however, Cheng said he believed the North Korean leader was “digging a grave for himself” with his refusal to halt his nuclear and missile programs. Friday’s launch was “another step on the road to self-destruction”.
“If North Korea continues to take provocative actions which build up to a certain level, the security council will issue new sanctions” that would further damage its economy, he warned.
South Korea fired two ballistic missiles in a show of strength against the North – but one failed.
Yonhap news agency reports that the South Korean military reacted while Pyongyang’s missile was still in the air, firing two Hyunmoo-2 missiles close to the South-North border.
The exercise took place just six minutes after the North Korean missile was launched, it said, and was intended to demonstrate to Kim Jong-un how swiftly Seoul could launch a retaliatory attack.
An official for the joint chiefs of staff told Yonhap that one of the Hyunmoo-2 missiles “accurately hit” a target 250km away in the Sea of Japan (known in South Korea as the East Sea) – simulating the distance between its launchpad and Sunan, from where the North Korean missile originated.
But the second missile fell into the water “in the initial stage”. The failure is being investigated.
The United States secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has called on China and Russia to take “direct actions of their own” against North Korea. But while Beijing has yet to officially respond Chinese experts believe significant new steps are out of the question.
“I don’t expect China to make any radical [moves],” says Zhao Tong, a North Korea expert at Beijing’s Carnegie–Tsinghua centre for global policy.
Zhao said Beijing would not view Friday’s launch as a significant escalation. “According to the data we already [have] it looks like a similar missile to the [Hwasong-12] that North Korea launched on 29 August: a similar missile, a similar range, a similar trajectory. In other words, it wasn’t that big a provocation, just a repetition of a previous action …
“Of course it overflew Japan – that is serious – but, again, it is not the first time in the last month that North Korea did this.”
Beijing would also believe that recent UN sanctions should be given time to take effect before further action was needed.
“We have already got two new UN security council resolutions in just over one month. Very radical measures were adopted. So I don’t expect China to respond with any additional radical measures.”
The South Korean national security council has held an emergency meeting at which president Moon Jae-in ordered officials to prepare for the possibility of biological attacks from the North.
Moon said Seoul wanted “stern” diplomatic and military pressures to be applied, including a live-fire drill of the Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missile in a show of force against Pyongyang.
Moon Jae-in presides over a meeting of the national security council at the presidential Blue House in Seoul.
Park Su-hyun, a spokesman for the president, said officials had been instructed to prepare for biological and chemical weapons attacks, as well as potential electromagnetic pulse attacks.
North Korea claimed after its nuclear test on 3 September that it had weapons capable of carrying out such attacks, in which detonation creates a wave of electrical energy that could disable electrical systems and communications.
North Korea’s provocative missile launch represents the second time the people of Japan, a treaty ally of the United States, have been directly threatened in recent weeks.
These continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation.
United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution, represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take. We call on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime.
China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labor.
China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own.
The top commander of US nuclear forces says his assumption is that North Korea’s most recent nuclear test, on 3 September, was a hydrogen bomb, Associated Press reports:
Air Force General John E Hyten, commander of Strategic Command, told reporters that he assumes from the size of the underground explosion and other factors that it was a hydrogen bomb – which is a leap beyond the fission, or atomic, bombs North Korea has previously tested.
Shortly after the 3 September test, North Korea claimed it had exploded a hydrogen bomb.