North Korea May be Preparing for Another Nuclear Test

by Abel Hampton August 30, 2017, 4:19
North Korea May be Preparing for Another Nuclear Test

August 26, 12:10 a.m.: This article was updated with a clarification from US authorities about the performance of the missiles launched. The launches occurred in the midst of the US and South Korea's annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises.

North Korea on Saturday morning fired what are believed to be three short-range ballistic missiles, one of which exploded shortly after launch, the U.S. Pacific Command said. During the recent crisis over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, the government's foreign policy and security teams have seemed to be tagging along behind the USA as it has vacillated between hawkish and dovish positions, rather than actively seeking a solution.

The three launches come as the US and South Korean militaries hold the joint Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises in South Korea, which Pyongyang considers to be a provocation and threat to its security. Guam, a tiny United States territory located in Micronesia in the western Pacific, is home to two major American military bases housing over 6,000 personnel. The two countries say the annual military exercise is defensive but Pyongyang condemns it as hostile, and even as a rehearsal for invasion.

Moon reiterated the need to apply what he called "maximum pressure and sanctions" on North Korea, but only for now. Tillerson had hoped that this could be the beginning of the signal from Pyongyang the United States had been looking for. Some conservative hardliners savagely attacked the current government's support of dialogue and negotiations with North Korea but remained silent when US President Donald Trump complimented North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and hinted at the possibility of talks with the North. State media arm, KCNA, said Kim had visited the country's Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defense Sciences and instructed the institute to produce more solid-fuel rocket engines and rocket warhead tips.

"We solemnly warn not only the U.S. and puppet group, but also satellites, including the United Kingdom and Australia, which are taking advantage of the present war maneuvers against the north, that they would face a miserable end if they join in play with fire by tiger moths of war".

Solid fuel missiles are faster and easier to deploy, and harder to catch before they launch because there's a lot less to be done in terms of launch preparation.

This latest North Korean missile test would be the 12th ballistic missile test this year. The comments came after reports that North Korea had developed a nuclear weapon small enough to fit on a missile.

The South Korean Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles were launched from the North's eastern Kangwon province and flew in a northeasterly direction about 250 km (155 miles) into the sea.

The U.S. military said three missiles were fired.

"Although the launches were no threat to Guam, it reminds us that we can not be complacent", said George Charfauros, the homeland security adviser on the U.S. territory.


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