North Korea's Latest Missile Test Came Startlingly Close To Russia
On Sunday, North Korea reportedly launched a new missile test, aimed at eastern Russia. According to CNN, Sunday's launch constituted the 10th missile, at least, that North Korea has launched since U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration back in January. This time, however, the missile launch differed in some important ways.
According to Japanese officials, the North Korean missile traveled for about 30 minutes, reaching an altitude of more than 1,200 miles. Meanwhile, U.S. officials reportedly placed the missile's landing site at approximately 60 miles off the coast of Vladivostock in eastern Russia. In other words, the missile reportedly flew higher and traveled further than any of the previous, recent missile tests before landing in the Sea of Japan.
Despite the startling new data points about the missile's path, the U.S. military's Pacific Command confirmed to Reuters on Sunday that the missile launch did not change the U.S. threat assessment. Still, David Wright, co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote on his organization's blog Sunday that the latest missile launch could demonstrate that North Korea could reach the U.S. territory — and military bases of — Guam in the Pacific Ocean. "If the information that has been reported about the test are correct, the missile has considerably longer range than its current missiles," Wright wrote.
Given how close the missile came to Vladivostok, the White House's statement following Sunday's launch unsurprisingly referenced Russia. "The President cannot imagine that Russia is pleased," the statement read. For its part, the Russian defense ministry said Sunday that the missile launch "posed no threat to Russia," according to Reuters. The White House's statement also had harsh words for North Korea.
Russia wasn't the only country in the region paying attention to the missile launch. A statement from China's foreign ministry read, "All sides should exercise restraint and refrain from taking actions that would further escalate tensions in the region." This recommendation could contradict President Trump's call for "far stronger sanctions." Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the missile launch "totally unacceptable," according to CNN.
After 10 recent missile launches, the news out of North Korea seems to be growing commonplace. Aside from the missile launches, the North Korean regime has also detained two U.S. citizens in the past month, bringing the total number of American citizens believed to be in North Korean custody to four. Meanwhile, President Trump's approach to North Korea has seemed confusing, oscillating between harsh statements about military armadas and a willingness to talk it out.