North Korea test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile in the waters off its east coast on Wednesday. The South Korean Foreign Ministry reported that the launch took place at 5:30 am local time near the city of Sinpo in North Korea’s South Hamgyong Province. South Korean officials have condemned the missile launch, calling it nothing but a move to “hasten the destruction” of North Korea.
American’s Pacific Command tracked the missile to be traveling as far as 310 miles away from North Korea’s mainland into the sea of Japan. This marks the first time a North Korean missile has violated Japan’s air defense identification zone. The latest launch shows that North Korean’s are making “quite rapid progress” and have made far more significant technological advances than the general public may give them credit for, according to Dr. Daniel A. Pinkston.
This 310 mile journey is the farthest a North Korean missile of this type has every flow. South Korean President Park Geun-hye stated that the test proves that North Korean sabre rattling and threats may be more dangerous that previously thought. He told reporters:
“North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats are not imaginary threats any longer, but they’re now becoming real threats. Those threats are coming closer each moment.”
These missiles could potentially strike Japan and U.S. military bases located in Okinawa, according to Kim Dong-yub from Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies.
Many experts agree that North Korea doesn’t currently have any long-range missiles that can strike the United States, however, a series of missile tests conducted by the communist country show that it is only a matter of time before they achieve those capabilities.
The test came only days after the U.S. and South Korea began conducting joint military drills. The North normally responds to these joint drills with grandiose military weapons tests that are normally spectacular failures. The north is prohibited from carrying out ballistic missile tests yet continue to do so despite the threat of increased sanctions and political isolationism. Park Geun-hye warned the nation that the continued tests will bring nothing but a premature end to the struggling nation. He stated to reporters:
“If the North Korean regime continues to pursue its nuclear and missile capabilities and ignore severe economic difficulties of its people, it will bring about more severe sanctions and diplomatic isolation. It should also realize that it will hasten its self-destruction,”
Kim Jong Un seems unphased by threats from the U.N. or U.S allies. He has threatened “nuclear retaliation” if the joint drills being conducted by the U.S. and South Korea show even the “slightest hint of aggression.”