Pyongyang’s short-range ballistic missile flies 450 km, lands in Sea of Japan

Published time: 28 May, 2017 21:32Edited time: 29 May, 2017 03:29

North Korea has launched a short-range ballistic missile which flew around 450 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan, some 300 km off the Japanese islands. Tokyo and Seoul strongly condemned Pyongyang’s move, the latest in a series of recent missile tests.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Pyongyang launched at least one projectile in the eastern direction from Wonsan, Gangwon Province at dawn.

“It is estimated to be a Scud type [missile],” the JCS said, adding, that the projectile flew about 450 kilometers. “The president was immediately notified of the situation, and the president ordered the NSC Standing Committee at 7:30 am.”

“So far, the assessment is there was at least one missile but we are analyzing the number of missiles,” JCS spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said, adding, the missile reached an altitude of 120 km (75 miles).

US President Donald Trump has also been briefed about the launch, according to a White House official. The missile was tracked by the US military for six minutes, Pacific Command said, confirming that the projectile landed in the Sea of Japan. The US military said it did not pose a threat to North America.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said the North Korean launches pose risk to air traffic in the area as well as to vessels navigating the Sea of Japan, Reuters reports.

“This ballistic missile launch by North Korea is highly problematic from the perspective of the safety of shipping and air traffic and is a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Suga told reporters in televised remarks.

Suga announced that North Korea launched one ballistic missile around 5:40 am from the east coast, and that the projectile seemed to have fallen in the Sea of Japan within the Japanese exclusive economic zone (EEZ). He condemned the launch as a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“As we agreed at the recent G7, the issue of North Korea is a top priority for the international community,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in brief comment on the launch. “Working with the United States, we will take specific action to deter North Korea.”

Pyongyang announced earlier this month that it had successfully tested the Pukguksong-2 intermediate range ballistic missile after a projectile was detected landing in international waters off Japan’s east coast. The allegedly nuclear-capable missile was launched just a week after North Korea launched its Hwasong-12 rocket.

The launch comes amid extremely high tensions on the Korean Peninsula. On Sunday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis warned that a conflict with North Korea would be “catastrophic.”

“The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely populated cities on earth, which is the capital of South Korea,” Mattis said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation.’

“This regime is a threat to the region, to Japan, to South Korea. And in the event of war, they would bring danger to China and to Russia as well,” the Pentagon chief added. “But the bottom line is it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat if we’re not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means.”

President Trump has repeatedly vowed to end Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, warning last month that if diplomacy fails, a “major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible.

Trump has also pressed China to put pressure on North Korea as its Pyongyang’s main economic lifeline. Beijing, however, has its own concerns with Washington’s decision to deploy its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea, saying it’s a threat to its own security and will not contribute to the easing of tensions with the North.

The Chinese have also repeatedly called for all sides to remain calm and level-headed during the North Korean stand-off and has urged the parties to “stop irritating each other.”

Moscow and Beijing have also been calling for a revival of the six-nation denuclearization talks which have been frozen since 2009.

Australia to bolster NATO mission in Afghanistan with 30 additional ‘non-combat’ troops

Australia to bolster NATO mission in Afghanistan with 30 additional ‘non-combat’ troops
Australia has agreed to draft 30 more troops for the NATO mission in Afghanistan after the military bloc asked its non-member ally to send an additional contingent to train and assist the Afghan army.

“These additional ADF members will allow Australia to commit additional advisers to further develop the long-term capabilities of the Afghan security forces as part of our current train assist mission. Their role will be to continue in the train advise and assist roles,” Australia’s Minister of Defence Minister Marise Payne announced.

Washington approached Canberra last month with a request for more troops from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to reinforce the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Currently, 270 members from the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force and civilian contractors are deployed in Afghanistan as part of Operation HIGHROAD which falls under NATO’s train, advise and assist mission, Resolute Support.

“Given the centrality of Afghanistan and the global fight against terrorism, and enhanced contribution to the support mission is both timely and appropriate,” Payne added during the Senate estimates hearing in Canberra.

With the latest announcement, the total number of Australian defense personnel working under NATO command in the Central Asian country will be brought to 300. The government is still to confirm where the troops will be deployed in the upcoming weeks.

“The request we received here wasn’t for combat troops on the ground,” Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin told the hearing. “The request was in areas that we provide very good capability, which is growing the Afghan national defense and security forces.”

Forty-two Australian soldiers have been died in Afghanistan since the country joined the US coalition in 2001. The ADF’s commitment to Afghanistan is due to expire in 2018, unless renewed by the government.

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