North Korea launched what appeared to be a second intermediate-range Musudan missile on Wednesday that flew about 400km (250 miles), in what appeared to be its most effective test yet, hours after another launch failed, South Korea’s military said. It was not immediately clear if the second Musudan launch, about two hours after the first, was considered a success or failure, or how the flight ended. However, the distance it covered was theoretically more than halfway towards the south-west coast of Japan’s main Honshu island.
The threat to Japan is intensifying.
Japan’s Minister of Defence Gen Nakatani
The first missile was launched from the east coast city of Wonsan, a South Korean official said, the same area where previous tests of intermediate-range missiles were conducted, possibly using mobile launchers. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, quoting a government official, said it disintegrated mid-air after a flight of about 150km (95 miles). The launches were in continued defiance of international warnings and a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban the North from using ballistic missile technology, which Pyongyang rejects as an infringement of its sovereignty. North Korea is believed to have up to 30 Musudan missiles, according to South Korean media, which officials said were first deployed around 2007, although the North had never attempted to test-fire them until April.
If North Korea continues testing, eventually its missileers will use the same technology in a missile that can threaten the United States.
Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies