The rogue nation of North Korea has reportedly tested an unknown ballistic missile on Saturday. The missile is said to have been launched at 07:55 local time (22:55 GMT Saturday) and flew east towards the Sea of Japan. The news of the missile test is just breaking, and comes from sources within South Korea news agency Yonhap. Saturday’s missile test, which reportedly involved an unidentified type of ballistic missile, is just one of many such tests carried about by North Korea in the last 12 months.
As BBCNews reports, Pyongyang has been testing weaponry with increased fervor over the last year, and in recent weeks Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, has gone on the record to claim that the secretive country was well on the way to testing missiles capable of both hitting the U.S. and carrying nuclear weapons. Since January, the U.S. and other nations (including South Korea) have been monitoring the military activity going on in North Korea via satellite imagery.
Because North Korea has spent much of the last year testing new weapons technology (including several widely-reported nuclear tests), the local region has been at a state of elevated alertness.
It appears that North Korea and its missile testing may have been influenced by the political drama unfolding in the United States. As CNN reports, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un spoke to the U.S. and its incoming POTUS, Donald Trump, in a New Year’s address to his people. In his speech, the leader of North Korea claimed that his country was ready to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile “at any time,” stoking tensions with the U.S. just as the United States was ready to swear in an untested new leader.
In a follow-up interview, a North Korea foreign ministry spokesperson claimed that “the US is wholly to blame” for the current missile program and testing going on in the hermit state.
The U.S., predictably, responded to the increased threats coming out of North Korea. The American government did so by way of its newly minted Defense Secretary, James Mattis. According to “Mad Dog” Mattis, the U.S.’ response to North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons will be “effective and overwhelming.” The new Trump appointee made the vow during a trip to U.S. ally South Korea.
While on the same visit, Mattis vowed that the U.S. would follow through with plans and promises to deploy a U.S.-developed missile defense system to South Korea sometime later in 2017.
The strong words from the new defense secretary came after over a year of nuclear tests in North Korea. The nation wrapped up its anxiety-inducing fifth nuclear test in 2016. According to North Korean leaders, the country has the capability of slinging a nuke as far as the United States. It is unclear whether or not the nations has the capabilities that it has bragged of, however, and U.S. experts claim that North Korea is incapable of following through on its pointed nuclear threats.
In recent weeks, North Korea has also claimed to be in possession of a newly developed form of missile technology. According to spokespersons for the nation, North Korea now has a new intercontinental ballistic missile that is capable of reaching the United States. And not just any United States territory, but the U.S. mainland as well. Prior to Saturday’s reported missile test, North Korea has bragged that the nation was prepared to test their new missile “at any time.”
At this point, news of the North Korean missile test is just breaking and is coming out of South Korea. It is unknown whether or not Saturday’s surprise missile test out of North Korea may have involved their newly touted intercontinental ballistic missile that Korean leaders claimed was capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
Saturday’s missile test by North Korea is the first to occur under POTUS Donald Trump, and it is unclear how the U.S. may respond to the provocation.
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