North Korea offers 'extended middle finger' to Trump

Lauren Perry
May 24, 2017

North Korea celebrated Sunday's launch of what appeared to be its longest-range ballistic missile yet tested in a bid to bring the United States mainland within reach, saying it was capable of carrying a "heavy nuclear warhead".

USA experts said Sunday's launch was likely a mobile, two-stage, liquid-fueled missile that North Korea displayed in a huge April 15 military parade. Tokyo said the flight pattern could indicate a new type of missile.

Last week the South elected a new president, Moon Jae-In, who advocates reconciliation with Pyongyang and said at his inauguration that he was willing "in the right circumstances" to visit the North to ease tensions.

It also tested the North's capability to carry a "large-size heavy nuclear warhead", KCNA said.

Kim Jong-un was present at the launch and was photographed celebrating and laughing with officials.

The missile - launched from a western area north of the capital Pyongyang - flew for about 30 minutes and reached an altitude of 1,240 miles before splashing into the sea east of the divided peninsula, Japanese officials said.

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said he and his South Korean counterpart agreed "dialogue for dialogue's sake with North Korea is meaningless".

It was North Korea's seventh missile test since Trump took office on January 20, although most of the others were considered failures.

On the respected 38 North website, aerospace engineering specialist John Schilling said it appeared to demonstrate an intermediate-range ballistic missile that could "reliably strike the USA base at Guam" in the Pacific.

And the launch was made as a warning aimed at the USA who have made their presence known by sending warship Carl Vinson into North Korean waters.

"The president expressed deep regret over the fact that this reckless provocation. occurred just days after a new government was launched in South Korea", senior presidential secretary Yoon Young-chan said.

The Russian president called on all parties to "find peaceful solutions".

Spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said it is still unlikely that North Korea has re-entry technology, which would return a warhead safely back into the atmosphere.

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U.S. President Donald Trump warned in an interview with Reuters this month that a "major, major conflict" with North Korea was possible.

Aside from Pyongyang's space launches, Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in the United States told AFP: "This is the longest-range missile North Korea has ever tested".

Moon, according to his office, called the launch a "clear violation" of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

North Korea made a global appeal in a letter released on Friday for states to reconsider enforcing U.N. sanctions on the Asian nation.

While Trump has said he'd be "honoured" to talk with leader Kim Jong Un under favourable conditions, Haley seemed to rule out the possibility.

"There's a lot of sanctions left that we can start to do, whether it's with oil, whether it's with energy, whether it's with their maritime ships, exports", US Ambassador Nikki Haley told ABC television's "This Week".

The U.N. envoy told ABC's "This Week", that the missile test appeared to be meant to send a message to South Korea and said North Korea's missile program was "getting kind of close to home" for Russian Federation.

That suggests a range of 4,500 kilometres or more if flown for maximum distance, analysts said.

The statement also condemned an April 28 ballistic missile launch by Pyongyang.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters the launch was "absolutely unacceptable" and Japan will respond resolutely.

"With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil, in fact - closer to Russia than to Japan - the President can not imagine that Russia is pleased", the White House said in a statement.

The last set of sanctions, imposed in March, capped China's imports of North Korean coal, a key cash earner for North Korea. In a show of force, the United States sent an aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, to waters off the Korean peninsula to conduct drills with South Korea and Japan.

Other reports by VgToday

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