North Korea Defies Trump’s Asia Visit, Bluster, Fires Unidentified Ballistic Missile — U.S. Officials

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North Korea has fired an unidentified ballistic missile, U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday on condition of anonymity, without immediately offering further details. The launch would be North Korea’s first since it fired a missile over Japan in mid-September.
 FILE PHOTO: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army

The missile flew to the east and the South Korean military is analyzing details of the launch with the United States, South Korea’s joint chiefs said, according to a report by South Korean news agency Yonhap.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean government source, also reported that intelligence officials of the United States, South Korea and Japan had recently detected signs of a possible missile launch and have been on higher alert.

 

The U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters declined to say what type of missile they think North Korea might test, but noted that Pyongyang had been working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States and had already tested inter-continental ballistic missiles. Other U.S. intelligence officials have noted that North Korea has previously sent deliberately misleading signs of preparations for missile and nuclear tests. These have been in part to mask real preparations, and in part to test U.S. and allied intelligence on its activities.

 

After firing missiles at a rate of about two or three a month since April, North Korea paused its missile launches in late September, after it fired a missile that passed over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island on Sept. 15.

 

Last week, North Korea denounced U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to relist it as a state sponsor of terrorism, calling it a “serious provocation and violent infringement.”  The designation allows the United States to impose more sanctions, though some experts said it risked inflaming tensions.

 

Trump has traded insults and threats with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and warned in his maiden speech to the United Nations in September that the United States would have no choice but to “totally destroy” North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies.

 

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AFP
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