North Korea Fires Off Missile Before Trump’s Meeting With China

KCNA/Handout via Reuters

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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North Korea has fired off another ballistic missile, according to the U.S. and South Korean militaries.

U.S. Pacific Command detected a missile launch at 5:42 p.m. EST Tuesday. Several minutes later, the missile landed in the Sea of Japan. Initial assessments indicate that the missile was a KN-15 mid-range missile.

North Korea reportedly fired the missile from Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, the location of a North Korean submarine base and a key testing site for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The KN-15 mid-range ballistic missile, also known as a Pukguksong-2, is the same type of missile North Korea tested in February. It is a solid-fueled, road-mobile missile based on SLBM technology. The use of solid fuel rather than liquid fuel cuts prepation time, making it easier to fire the missile without warning.

The launch comes just days before President Donald Trump will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two state leaders will discuss the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile threat at length.

“China has great influence over North Korea. China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” the president told the Financial Times Sunday, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”

Tuesday’s missile launch is the latest in a long string of recent provocations in violation of international bans.

Since Trump took office in January, North Korea has tested a new type of ballistic missile — a solid-fueled, road-mobile, mid-range missile, fired off four ballistic missiles in a rehearsal for a strike on U.S. bases in Japan, tested multiple high-thrust rocket engines for a possible intercontinental ballistic missile, and tested an unidentified missile.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responded to North Korea’s latest provocation with a rather vague statement. “North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”

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