North Korea’s Latest Missile Test: Anger over South Korea's New F-35?

David Axe

North Korea tested at least one medium-range ballistic missile on Oct. 2, 2019. The test came just hours after Pyongyang announced it would resume talks with the United States on the subject of the hermit state’s nuclear-weapons program.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. president Donald Trump last met in June 2019 at the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea. Prior to that, Kim and Trump met in Hanoi in February 2019 and Singapore in June 2018.

None of the talks have resulted in any meaningful slowing of North Korea’s efforts to build up and improve its atomic arsenal. Pyongyang apparently possesses an arsenal of several dozen nuclear warheads plus a variety of short-, medium- and long-range ballistic missiles that are capable of delivering them.

North Korea also is developing a ballistic-missile submarine and a submarine-launched missile to go with it, potentially adding a survivable at-sea nuclear capability to reinforce its more-vulnerable land-based arsenal.

Kim in 2018 agreed to halt some missile-testing as a gesture of goodwill, but testing of sea-based missiles and shorter-range land-based missiles has continued. The Oct. 1, 2019 launch, according to Diplomat Senior Editor Ankit Panda “unambiguously [is] the first test of a missile designed to deliver a strategic nuclear payload since the Nov. 28, 2017 test of the Hwasong-15,” an intercontinental-range, land-based missile.

“That’s a big moment,” Panda tweeted.

Some analysts and the Japanese government initially suspected that the most recent missile test involved two submarine-launched weapons. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe told reporters the launch violated U.N. Security Council resolutions. “We strongly condemn and protest the act,” Abe said, according to The Washington Post.

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