Trump Has No Comment On If US Launched Electronic Warfare Attack Against North Korean Missile Test

Did media really think President Trump would confirm or deny if the military launched an electronic warfare attack against North Korea?:

President Trump is refusing to say whether the U.S. sabotaged North Korea’s launch of ballistic missile that blew up shortly after liftoff Sunday morning.

“I don’t want to comment on it,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt at Monday’s White House Easter Egg Roll.

Last month, the New York Times reported that during President Barack Obama’s last three years in office, he quietly ordered a surge in strikes against the missile launches — including the use of “electronic warfare” techniques to combat them. It’s unclear whether such a counterattack was used to sabotage Sunday’s launch.

“The approach taken in targeting the North Korean missiles has distinct echoes of the American- and Israeli-led sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program, the most sophisticated known use of a cyberweapon meant to cripple a nuclear threat,” the Times’ David Sanger and William Broad wrote in early March.

During his “Fox & Friends” interview, Trump would also not comment on what the U.S. response would be if North Korea attempted to launch another missile.

“We’ll find out,” the president said.  [Yahoo News]

Failed North Korean Missile May Have Been Test of Solid Fuel Design

I would say probably the most significant thing about this failed launch is that the North Koreans do not believe President Trump will bomb them.  If they did, they would not have blatantly against UN resolutions have launched this missile right after President Trump put them on notice:

North Korea on Sunday attempted to launch an unidentified ballistic missile from its east coast, but it exploded right after lift-off, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

Pyongyang fired off the missile from a land-based launch facility in Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, at around 6:20 a.m., the JCS said, noting that it needed further analysis to determine the exact type of the missile and other details.

The botched missile launch came before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Seoul in the afternoon to highlight the robust alliance against the wayward regime’s escalating saber-rattling.

“The North attempted to launch a missile, but we presume that the launch ended in failure,” a JCS official said, declining to be named.

On April 5, Pyongyang fired off what was thought to be a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile from the Sinpo area. It flew just 60 kilometers before falling into the East Sea.

Seoul officials said the missile launched Sunday could be the same type as the one fired earlier this month.

Some experts here say the failed launch might indicate the North has difficulty in developing solid-fuel engines for a new missile or the Scud-ER missile. Others say the launch could be part of its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) development program.  [Yonhap]

You can read the rest at the link, but just because the missile failed does not mean the test was a total failure.  There may be important lessons learned from the failed test if they were able to collect the data to improve the design for future tests.  If they perfect their solid fuel missile design this would be a game changer for them since they could more quickly deploy and fire these missiles before US intelligence collection assets could detect them compared to their current missiles that require fueling and more time to prepare them for launch.

South Korea Tests New Missile That Can Strike All of North Korea

The South Koreans are signaling back to the Kim regime that they to have advanced missiles that can target all of North Korea:

South Korea has successfully test-launched a new 800-kilometer missile that can reach anywhere in North Korea, defense sources said Thursday.

It could send another strong warning message to North Korea which is continuing its nuclear and missile development prohibited by the international community, they said.

“There was a test firing recently of a Hyunmoo-type ballistic missile with a range of 800km at the Anheung test site of the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) under the wing of the Defense Ministry,” an informed source said. “It’s assessed that it was successful.”

Defense Minister Han Min-koo inspected the test, in which the missile met the key requirements of normal blast, flight and the accuracy of hitting a target, added the source.  [Yonhap]

North Korea Missile Launch Before Trump-Xi Summit Assessed As A Failure

With this missile test being a failure I would be surprised if the Kim regime doesn’t try something else as well to make their point before President Trump’s summit with Chinese premier Xi Jinping:

The Pentagon now assesses the North Korean missile launch Wednesday likely was a failure, Fox News has learned.

The missile did not go as far as intended, officials with knowledge of the latest intelligence reports said. It did not reach Japanese waters and may have “pinwheeled in flight,” according to one official.

What’s more, the missile was an older SCUD — not the advanced land version of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (KN-15), as first assessed by the U.S. Pacific Command last night, a U.S. defense official confirmed. North Korea launched a KN-15 missile in February — as President Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida.

A senior administration official told Fox News the launch didn’t represent much of a provocation on North Korea’s part.

In a 23-word statement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made it clear the administration was moving in a new direction: “North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”  [Fox News]

You can read more at the link.

North Korea Missile Test Fails Shortly After Launch

It looks like the North Koreans blew themselves up again:

A North Korean missile fired Wednesday exploded “within seconds of launch,” according to US Pacific Command.

US officials confirmed North Korea had attempted to launch a missile near Kalma, on the country’s east coast, but early reports suggest it failed.
“South Korea and the US are aware of the missile launch and to their knowledge North Korea’s missile was not successfully launched,” South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
Neither the US nor South Korea have released information on what type of missile was fired, or why it failed. The US Pacific Command said it was working with partners to assess it further.  [CNN]
You can read more at the link, but no word on what type of missile this was yet.  Considering that the missile failed it makes me wonder if it was yet another Musudan test?

North Korea Claims to Have Tested A New Rocket Engine

There doesn’t seem to be much details about what is new about this rocket engine.  My guess would be it is using solid and instead of liquid fuel which means it is easier to hide the missiles and quickly fire them:

North Korea claimed it successfully tested a powerful new rocket engine on Sunday, signaling defiance as the U.S. secretary of state visited China.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the test of a new high-thrust engine at dawn at the Sohae satellite launching pad, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

It quoted him as saying the test “declared a new birth of the Juche-based rocket industry.” Juche, or self-reliance, refers to the communist state’s official ideology.

The test occurred as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was due to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Tillerson is pushing for closer China-U.S. cooperation on dealing with the growing threat from North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

China was the last stop on his three-country tour that also took him to South Korea and Japan.

Tillerson has suggested President Donald Trump’s administration may adopt a tougher strategy toward the North. In Seoul, he warned that the U.S. would consider pre-emptive military action if the threat reaches a level “that we believe requires action.”

KCNA said the “Korean-style” engine was developed by the Academy of the National Defense Science.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.


Picture of the Day: North Korea’s Four SCUD Launch

N.K. releases photos on ballistic missile launches

This photo, released by North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper on March 7, 2017, shows four ballistic missiles being fired during a drill at the Hwasong artillery units of the North Korean Army’s Strategic Force. The paper, published by the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, said the North’s top leader Kim Jong-un inspected the drill. North Korea on the previous day fired four ballistic missiles from an area near Tongchang-ri in northwest North Korea. They flew as far as 1,000 kilometers before landing within or very close to Japan’s exclusive economic zone. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea Believed to Have Test Fired Solid Fuel Intermediate Range Missile

This is a pretty significant development because a solid fuel missile on a mobile launcher would allow the North Koreans to launch with little to no indications or warning against targets in Japan with this missile:

Pukguksong-2 missile

In this photo taken on Feb. 12, 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) observes the test-firing of a Pukguksong-2 missile through binoculars. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

South Korea’s military said Monday that North Korea appears to have employed technologies used in submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) to develop a new type of intermediate-range rocket, citing its analysis of a launch test carried out by Pyongyang a day earlier.

“North Korean leader Kim Jong-un likely ordered the task of developing a surface-to-surface Pukguksong-2 missile based on the successful SLBM test carried out in August. We have reached an assessment that the North is in the process of developing a ballistic missile with a greatly extended strike range,” an official from Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

Pyongyang called the new missile Pukguksong-2. The SLBM launched in August carried the name Pukguksong-1, a name which translates as the “North Star.”

The remark came after the JCS initially identified the type of missile fired from Bangyon air base in the western province of North Pyongan Province at 7:55 a.m. as a medium-range Rodong or modified Rodong, and then changed their assessment to a modified Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM).

The missile reached a height of 550 kilometers after being fired at a high angle and flew about 500 km before splashing down into the East Sea.

As the launch was conducted in a “lofted” style, it put the missile into a high trajectory rather than a lower one that would allow it to fly much farther.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Was North Korean Missile Launch In Response to Trump and Abe Meeting?

I think it is more than coincidence that the Kim regime decided to interfere with President Trump’s and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s golf game this weekend by firing off this missile:

This photo first released on Jan. 24, 2017, by North Korea’s state-run news organization, KCNA, shows a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile being test-fired from a launcher in North Korea on June 22, 2016. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Pyongyang fired a missile into waters off its eastern coast Sunday morning, the first test-firing by North Korea this year and since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Launched from Banghyon Air Base in North Pyongyan Province at 7:55 a.m., the missile reached an altitude of about 550 kilometers (342 miles) and flew 500 kilometers before splashing into the East Sea, both figures which indicate that it wasn’t an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), said an official from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It appears that the missile was a Rodong medium-range class meant to target Japan, according to another South Korean military source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

The Rodong or Nodong missile is a missile developed primarily to target Japan which is further evidence that the Trump-Abe meeting this week is why they fired the missile when they did.  With that said it is important to keep things in perspective.  The Nodong is a missile they have fired plenty of times in the past and this test firing was on a known test trajectory that safely impacted in the Sea of Japan.  If it wasn’t for the fact that it was North Korea test firing this missile most people would not care.

Here is how President Trump and Prime Minister Abe responded during a hastily called news conference at Trump’s golf club:

United States President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have condemned North Korea’s latest missile launch.

United States President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have condemned North Korea’s latest missile launch.

Trump and Abe issued their statements on the North’s surprise ballistic missile launch on Sunday during an unscheduled joint news conference in Florida.

Abe said that North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable, urging the North to fully comply with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Trump said that he wants everybody to understand and fully know that the United States stands behind its great ally Japan 100 percent.  [KBS World]

Here is how the ROK has responded:

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) denounced North Korea for its latest ballistic missile launch.

Following North Korea’s missile launch Sunday morning, the JCS issued a statement, calling the military action a “grave threat to peace and safety of South Korea and the international community.”

The JCS warned that the Kim Jong-un regime will only see its collapse unless it wakes up from the delusion of nuclear and missile provocations.

The JCS said the missile launch is unacceptable and the military is prepared to immediately respond to any North Korean provocation.

The South Korean military stressed that the missile launch came in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.  [KBS World]

I think the response was handled well by everyone because on the scale of North Korean provocations this is very low and people should not over react to it in my opinion which so far no one is appearing to do.

Expert Believes North Korea Using Iranian Missile Test to Judge Trump’s Reaction

It does make me wonder if the Kim regime and the Mullahs in Iran coordinated their recent missile test in order to test the reaction of the Trump administration:

North Korea missile test

North Korea is expected to watch closely how the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump responds to Iran’s missile launch and what policy the new administration puts together on Pyongyang before it carries out its threatened missile test, a U.S. expert said Sunday.

“It has been my contention that N.K. would delay testing an ICBM or a nuclear test until they had a better read on the Trump administration. They will closely watch the U.S. response to Iran’s test,” Ken Gause, a senior North Korea analyst at CNA Corp. in Washington, told Yonhap News Agency.  (…….)

The Trump administration has shown toughness on Iran’s missile test. The Treasury Department slapped fresh sanctions over the missile test. National Security Advisor Mike Flynn warned the U.S. was “officially putting Iran on notice.” Asked if he’s willing to consider a military option, Trump said Thursday that “Nothing is off the table.”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I think if North Korea tries anything I think they would do it in March during the Key Resolve military exercise timeframe.  They have historically launched their shorter range SCUDs during military exercises which I expect they would likely do again this year.