North Korea Claims It is Preparing for an ICBM Test in the Near Future

It will be interesting to see if President Trump enforces his redline against a North Korean ICBM test because it looks like the Kim regime is testing the waters to see what the Trump administration’s response will be to this:

North Korea’s official newspaper claimed Saturday that a test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile is not far away.

“The series of recent strategic weapons tests show that we are not too far away from test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile,” the Rodong Sinmun said in an editorial.

The claim indicates the regime has continued to advance its missile technology since its leader Kim Jong-un said during his annual address on Jan. 1 that the regime was in the final stage of developing ICBM technology.  (…..)

“The great success of test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile, which we are sure to achieve, will mark a historic watershed moment in the failure of the U.S. hostile policy against us,” the editorial in the ruling Workers’ Party’s mouthpiece read. “Historically speaking, the U.S. has never dared to go to war with a country that possesses nuclear weapons or ICBMs.”  [Yonhap]

In Likely Demonstration Against US Aircraft Carriers, North Korea Fires Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles

This will give the US Navy something to think about:

North Korea fired several short-range antiship cruise missiles Thursday morning off its eastern coast, which flew about 200 kilometers (124 miles) after peaking at an altitude of 2 kilometers before landing in the East Sea, local military officials said.

The first missile, detected by South Korean authorities at 6:18 a.m., was followed by “several more” projectiles for “several minutes.” The type of missile was not immediately known, as is often the usual case. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles were fired from the vicinity of North Korea’s eastern coastal city of Wonsan, Kangwon Province.

The South Korean and U.S. militaries are cooperating for further analysis. It was North Korea’s fifth missile test since President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10, and its 10th this year.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.  Here is what President Moon had to say in response to the 5th North Korean missile test since he took office:

After receiving reports about the provocation from the JCS as well as national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, President Moon convened a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) at 2 p.m. at Cheong Wa Dae to discuss countermeasures.

During the meeting, Moon made it clear that his government will never compromise on issues related to national security, presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.

“North Korea will only face the deepening of its isolation and economic trouble should it stick to this provocative mode,” Moon was quoted as saying.

The President also vowed to enhance the country’s ability to defend against the North’s nuclear and missile threats while maintaining the ROK-U.S. combined defense readiness, according to Park.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but degrading THAAD’s capability like President Moon is currently advocating for does not sound to me like enhancing the country’s capability to defend against missile attacks.

North Korea Fires A SCUD Missile from Wonsan Into the Sea of Japan (East Sea)

It appears as the US increases its force posture in the area that the North Koreans are trying to signal that they have no intentions of giving up their weapons program no matter how much pressure is put on them:

North Korea launches a mid-range ballistic missile in this undated file photo. (KCNA-Yonhap)

North Korea fired a ballistic missile from its eastern coast early Monday morning, dealing another blow to efforts by South Korea’s new government to improve inter-Korean ties.

The missile, presumed to be a Scud type, was launched eastward from the vicinity of Wonsan, Gangwon Province, at around 5:39 a.m., according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

“The flight distance is around 450 kilometers,” it said.

The North’s latest action was immediately reported to President Moon Jae-in, who ordered related government officials to convene a National Security Council meeting, said the JCS.

The session started at 7:30 a.m., presided over by Moon’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong.

The U.S. Pacific Command also confirmed the launch occurred near Wonsan Airfield, saying the missile was tracked for six minutes until it landed in the East Sea.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but some speculation is stating that the North Koreans may be testing an anti-ship variant of the SCUD missile in response to American aircraft carriers in the area.

Kim Jong-un Brags About Successful Missile Launch

As I expected Kim Jong-un seems pretty pleased with the recent successful ballistic missile launch:

North Korea said on Monday it has successfully tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile to confirm the reliability of the late-stage guidance of the nuclear warhead, indicating further advances in the ability to hit U.S. targets.

The North’s KCNA news agency said leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test which also verified the functioning of the solid-fuel engine for the Pukguksong-2 missile and ordered it for deployment in field action.

North Korea has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programs, even from China, its lone major ally, saying the weapons are needed for legitimate self-defense. The North last conducted a ballistic missile test a week ago.

“Saying with pride that the missile’s rate of hits is very accurate and Pukguksong-2 is a successful strategic weapon, he approved the deployment of this weapon system for action,” KCNA said, quoting leader Kim Jong Un.

The launch verified the reliability and accuracy of the solid-fuel engine’s operation and stage separation and the late-stage guidance of the nuclear warhead which was recorded by a device mounted on the warhead, KCNA said.

“Viewing the images of the Earth being sent real-time from the camera mounted on the ballistic missile, Supreme leader Kim Jong Un said it feels grand to look at the Earth from the rocket we launched and the entire world looks so beautiful,” KCNA said.

The missile flew about 500 kilometers (310.69 miles), reaching an altitude of 560 km, and landed in waters off the North’s east coast, South Korea’s military said on Sunday.  [Yahoo News]

You can read more at the link.

North Korea Test Fires Another Long-Range Ballistic Missile

It looks like the North Koreans may have pulled off another successful missile test pending further analysis:

North Korea fired a ballistic missile that flew about 500 kilometers, Sunday, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

This marked the North’s second missile provocation since President Moon Jae-in was sworn in May 10. The first was launched May 14.

President Moon immediately ordered the new chief of the National Security Office, Chung Eui-yong, to preside over a meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Security Council (NSC) at Cheong Wa Dae. Chung was appointed to the post earlier in the day.

“North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile in the eastern direction at around 4:59 p.m. from the vicinity of Pukchang in South Pyongan Province,” the JCS said in a release. “Flight distance is about 500 kilometers.”

The JCS noted the characteristics of the missile were presumed to be similar to the “Pukguksong-2” intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) fired in February. At the time, the North’s state media said its IRBM used a high-thrust solid fuel-powered engine, marking the first time it tested a solid-fueled, surface-to-surface missile that has more than a medium range.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Russia Warns the United States Against Intimidating North Korea After Missile Test

Like I said before I did not think Putin would care much about the North Korean missile test:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned North Korea’s latest missile launch as “dangerous” but warned against “intimidating” Pyongyang.

Speaking in China, Putin called for a peaceful solution to the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula, Russia’s Sputnik news agency reported.
“I would like to confirm that we are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear states, including through the Korean Peninsula,” Putin told reporters. “We are against it and consider it counterproductive, damaging, dangerous,” he said.
But in comments that appeared aimed at the US, he said that “intimidating (North Korea) is unacceptable.”  [CNN]
You can read more at the link, but Russia could see the North Korea issue as a potential bargaining chip with the US and thus the current mixed signals being sent after this latest missile test.