US Official: North Korean Missile Test ‘Was No Surprise’
North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test was, to a certain degree, expected, a U.S. official revealed.
North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile early Sunday morning. The test marked the first North Korean provocation since President Donald Trump took office. The South Korean military suggested the test was a “show of force” in response to the president’s hard-line stance on North Korea’s weapons programs.
Such a provocation was anticipated, a U.S. official told Reuters reporters.
“This was no surprise,” the official said. “The North Korean leader likes to draw attention at times like this.” The official explained that Trump and his administration expected North Korea to try something like this early on.
The South Korean military initially suspected that the missile was a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, which could threaten U.S. targets as far away as Guam. South Korean officials now believe the missile was a Rodong medium-range missile, which could reach targets in South Korea and Japan. Seoul and Washington, D.C., are conducting an assessment of the missile to determine its type. The possibility that North Korea fired a new type of weapon has not been ruled out.
It is clear, however, that this was not another nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), despite North Korean threats that it could launch an ICBM at any time.
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed the test with South Korea’s presidential security director Kim Kwan Jin. They agreed to “explore every possible way to suppress North Korean provocations.”
The response will be calibrated to show strength without escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, since this was not a nuclear test or an ICBM test.
Possible responses include new sanctions, the deployment of additional naval and air assets to the region, and an accelerated installation of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system.
In response to the latest ballistic missile test, the Pentagon said U.S. forces will “remain vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and are fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security.”
Trump said Saturday evening that the U.S. will stand by its allies “one hundred percent.”
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