N Korea likely tested new ballistic missile Friday

U.S. and South Korea set to conduct ‘additional detailed analysis,’ statement says
Oliver Hotham
August 2nd, 2019 – North Korea is believed to have tested a “new-type” of short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) on Friday morning, South Korea’s Blue House said in a statement following a meeting of its National Crisis Management Center. In an initial assessment several hours after Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reported that it had detected a launch of two projectiles from North Korea’s east coast, Blue House officials were said to have “expressed strong concern” about the launch — Pyongyang’s third in two weeks.
“[They] urged North Korea again to halt such activities that do not help reduce military tensions on the peninsula,” Blue House spokesperson Ko Min-jeong said in a statement.
“The U.S. and ROK have analyzed the specifics of the projectile and see that it is likely to be a new type of short-range ballistic missile,” the statement continued.
The missile tested on Friday morning appears to share “flight characteristics” of that launched on Wednesday, it added, with the U.S. and South Korea set to “conduct additional detailed analysis on the particulars of the specifications.”
In a separate follow up statement, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the North Korean missile had flown around 220 kilometers at a “maximum” speed of Mach 6.9 (8520.12 kilometers an hour) and a height of 25 kilometers.
Wednesday saw Pyongyang test what state media described as a recently-developed multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), with one analyst saying available data appears to support Seoul’s assessment that Friday’s morning’s test was of the same weapon.
“Inclined to wait for photos, but that range/apogee figure suggests it’s the MLRS launched on a very low depressed trajectory,” Ankit Panda, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, told NK News.
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, responsible for Seoul’s relations with Pyongyang, also on Friday expressed its concerns about North Korea’s latest test.
“North Korea’s ballistic missile launches could have a negative impact on efforts to build peace on the Korean Peninsula,” ministry deputy spokesperson Kim Eun-han said in a regular briefing.
“Our basic stance on inter-Korean relations is that we will completely implement joint declarations that the leaders of the two Koreas agreed on to realize denuclearization and establish peace on the Korean peninsula,” he stressed.
Washington’s response to Friday’s test has been more upbeat, with senior officials claiming that the two countries remain on track to restart planning working-level negotiations in the near future.
U.S. President Donald Trump, too, on Thursday insisted that the situation was “under control” and stressed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un remains in compliance with his commitment to refrain from long-range missile and nuclear testing.
“We never made an agreement on [short-range missiles],” he told reporters at the White House. “I have no problem. We’ll see what happens. But these are short-range missiles. They’re very standard.”
Friday’s launches were Pyongyang’s third in two weeks and fifth so far this year, with recent reports in state media — and the renewed presence of top military-industrial officials by his side at recent tests — suggesting more may be on the way.
The renewed testing is also likely a response to a planned upcoming joint drill, dubbed “Dong Maeng,” set to kick-off in the next few days.
“While reporting on the missile launches last week, state media explicitly mentioned testing, developing, and deploying weapons, which indicated the North would continue to engage in military activities,” Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News’s sister NK Pro, said.
“The North likely will continue to carry out provocations at least until the U.S.-ROK joint military drills come to a close,” she continued.
“Kim Jong Un designated the exercises as a ‘threat’ to North Korea’s ‘national security,’ and the North will continue to respond to the drills as such.”