North Korea Test Ballistics Missile Launch Amid Donald Trump’s Visit with Shinzo Abe

David Lee, Feb. 13, 2017, 10:49 a.m.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Sunday as an attention-getter shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The missile, which flew some 500 km and reached a height of 550 km before falling into the East Sea, is believed to be an improved version of a projectile observers call Musudan, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Trump and Abe denounced the launch in an urgently called press conference the same night. The North fired the missile in the morning, about 28 hours after Trump and Abe met at the White House. On Friday the two leaders had urged North Korea "to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and not to take any further provocative actions." Trump the same day told reporters defending against the North Korean missile and nuclear threat is "a very, very high priority."

The Musudan has a range of about 3,500 km, which would put the U.S. military base on Guam within its reach. "We presume that the missile launch was aimed at finding out what the new U.S. administration's reaction to the North is, and at making people believe that international sanctions against the North aren't effective," a JCS spokesman here said.

He added the regime also seemed to be trying to show off its missile capabilities ahead of former leader Kim Jong-il's 75th birthday on Feb. 16. In Seoul, the launch was discussed in an urgent meeting chaired by national security advisor Kim Kwan-jin, who then talked with his U.S. counterpart Michael Flynn on the phone.

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