U.S. finds recent N. Korean missile test not a threat

Jason Hemingway, May 7, 2019, 9:13 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday observed a test of new rocket launchers and tactical guided missiles, with a map showing the parabolic trajectory of the projectile.

This could hint at the launch of a ballistic missile, which UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from launching. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that the missile was "relatively short range" and "didn't present a threat to the United States or to South Korea or Japan."

"We still believe that there's an opportunity to get a negotiated outcome where we get fully verified denuclearization," Pompeo added in an interview with ABC.

Cheong Wa Dae did not comment on Monday. A presidential official here said, "We will refrain from rushing to state our position before accurate analyses by the [South] Korean and U.S. governments are out."

Right after the test on Saturday, the Defense Ministry characterized the launch as a "short-range missile" but later referred to it simply as "projectiles," raising criticism that it was trying to downplay the test.

The National Intelligence Service told the National Assembly it was "analyzing" what the projectile was and added that the launch "cannot be viewed as an act of provocation."

But U.S. and South Korean experts believe the North launched a Russian Iskander-class ballistic missile with a range of 500 km. If fired from the inter-Korean border, it could strike any target on the Korean Peninsula as far south as Jeju Island and could carry a nuclear warhead.

It would currently be difficult to shoot down by existing Patriot or Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense systems.

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