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North Korea Fires Another Missile Amid Rising Tensions With U.S.

North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Tuesday, the first such test since President Trump and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, agreed to put more pressure on the country to come to the negotiating table.

The missile took off from the Banghyon airfield in the northwestern town of Kusong and flew 578 miles before landing in the sea between North Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said in a statement. Military officials were still analyzing flight data to determine what type of missile had been used.

It was the first missile test by the North since it launched land-to-sea cruise missiles off its east coast on June 8. Under a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions, North Korea is banned from developing or testing ballistic missiles.

According to the Japanese government, the missile flew for 40 minutes before landing in the so-called exclusive economic zone in the sea between Japan and the Koreas. The United States Pacific Command said it had tracked the intermediate range missile for 37 miles. In Seoul, Mr. Moon, who during his election campaign this year advocated talks with the North, called a meeting of senior security officials to discuss the latest provocation, his office said.

The launch occurred hours before Independence Day began in the United States. In 2006, as the July 4 holiday was still being celebrated, North Korea test-fired six ballistic missiles.

On Twitter late Monday, Mr. Trump was apparently referring to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, when he wrote: “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

Mr. Trump has been trying, so far without success, to enlist China to pressure Pyongyang to curtail its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea last launched a ballistic missile from Kusong on May 14, when it tested what it called a new weapon that could carry a large, heavy nuclear warhead. The intermediate-range Hwasong-12, believed to have a longer range than any other North Korean missile tested until then, landed in the sea between the North and Japan. It flew 489 miles and soared to an altitude of 1,312 miles. At the time, North Korea said that the missile was launched at a deliberately high angle so it would not fall too close to a neighboring country, and that if launched at a normal trajectory, it could target American military bases in the Pacific. Some outside analysts have reached a similar conclusion.

North Korea also launched what the Pentagon called “a medium- or intermediate-range ballistic missile” from the Banghyon air base on Feb. 12. The missile, which was identified as a Pukguksong-2, flew 310 miles. North Korea has said Pukguksong-2 could carry a nuclear payload. The missile was also fired from a mobile-launch vehicle and used a solid-fuel technology that missile experts said will make it easier to hide it and launch on short notice.

The Pukguksong-2 test was conducted as Mr. Trump was hosting Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, on an official visit.

In remarks to reporters, Mr. Abe called for a strengthening of “unity of the international community.” He also specifically appealed to Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to “have a constructive response to North Korea.”

North Korea has been trying to build a reliable intermediate-range ballistic missile, which would be able to reach American military bases in the Pacific. At the same time, it has vowed to develop the ability to attack the United States with nuclear warheads, although it has never tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that could fly across the Pacific.

Missile experts say North Korea may still be years away from mastering the technologies needed to build a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile.

Source: New York Times

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