South Korea said on Sunday North Korea’s latest missile launch threatened the entire world, warning of a punitive action if it leads to further provocations such as a nuclear test or a long-range missile launch.
“North Korea showing a variety of offensive missiles at yesterday’s military parade and daring to fire a ballistic missile today is a show of force that threatens the whole world,” South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
A North Korean missile “blew up almost immediately” on its test launch on Sunday, the US Pacific Command said, hours before US Vice President Mike Pence was due in South Korea for talks on the North’s increasingly defiant arms programme.
Washington and Seoul will try hard to figure out what exactly North Korea fired. This matters because while North Korea regularly launches short-range missiles, it is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the US mainland.
The ultimate goal is to have a full array of nuclear-tipped missiles in response to what Pyongyang says is hostility by Washington and Seoul meant to topple its government. North Korea is thought to have a small arsenal of atomic bombs and an impressive array of short- and medium-range missiles.
Many outside analysts believe that North Korea has not yet mastered the technology to build warheads small enough to place on long-range missiles, though some civilian experts say North Korea can already build nuclear-tipped shorter range missiles that have South Korea and Japan within its striking range.