North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Test Triggers Emergency Security Council Meeting

John Kim, Feb. 13, 2017, 10:50 a.m.

North Korea on Monday claimed its latest intermediate-range missile test heralded the birth of a “new strategic weapon system,“ triggering a UN Security Council emergency meeting and international criticism, including from China. 

The Pukguksong-2, which flew some 550 kilometers before falling into the East Sea on Sunday, was a result of efforts led by leader Kim Jong-un to develop a land-based ballistic missile with a greater range built on the experiment of a submarine-launched ballistic missile last August, the official Korean Central News Agency said. 

The young ruler himself observed the liftoff at the Banghyon launch site, expressing “great satisfaction over the possession of what another powerful nuclear attack means,” the KCNA said. 

South Korea, the US and Japan, which have issued strong condemnations, requested the UN Security Council convene an emergency meeting to discuss its response to the latest provocation, Seoul officials said. The session is expected Monday afternoon in New York. 

China also displayed “clear opposition” to the test later in the day. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said while the North’s nuclear program is an issue between Washington and Pyongyang, and Seoul and Pyongyang, Beijing also “feels responsible” and will continue to resolve it with the US and other countries.

The launch proved the “reliability and security” of the surface launch system powered by high thrust solid fuel engines, as well as the missile’s guidance and control features including during the re-entry phase, as it can be “tipped with a nuclear warhead,” the KCNA noted. 

The Rodong Sinmun, another state mouthpiece, ran dozens of images of the leader, a new transporter-erector-launcher and the missile soaring from a cylindrical tube, spouting out flames. 

“Now our rocket industry has radically turned into high thrust solid fuel-powered engine from liquid fuel rocket engine and rapidly developed into a development- and creation-oriented industry, not just copying samples,” the KCNA quoted Kim as saying. 

“Thanks to the development of the new strategic weapon system, our People’s Army is capable of performing its strategic duties most accurately and rapidly in any space -- under waters or on the land.”

Solid fuel, which Pyongyang claimed to have developed last March for the first time, may boost the projectile’s mobility and make it more difficult to be detected before being launched, compared to liquid fuel. 

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged a fresh type of missile and solid fuel were used during the test, after mistakenly assessing Sunday it was an existing mid-range Rodong and then an advanced version of the longer-range Musudan. 

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