SEOUL, June 22 (UPI) — North Korea‘s two mid-range missile launches indicate Pyongyang may be making technical progress on a weapon capable of reaching U.S. territory.
Early Wednesday Pyongyang test-launched two Musudan projectiles known to have a range between 1,800 and 2,500 miles, and capable of targeting Japan.
Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff said the first missile, launched at 5:58 a.m., traveled about 90 miles before exploding in mid-air, South Korean newspaper Kukmin Ilbo reported. The second projectile, which was fired at 8:05 a.m., traveled for 250 miles before falling in the East Sea, or the Sea of Japan.
But Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported the second missile traveled for more than 600 miles.
South Korean defense ministry Moon Sang-kyun told the Kukmin the United States, South Korea and Japan are assessing the launches.
“North Korea unexpectedly launched at a fairly high angle, in order to reduce the range, but to some extent they have made technical progress,” Moon said.
Seoul condemned the launches.
“The North’s missile launches are not only a clear violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban any launches using ballistic missile technology, but also a grave threat to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the international community,” the foreign ministry stated, according to Yonhap.
“The government strongly condemns it and sternly warns that the North will face greatly toughened sanctions and pressure from us and the international community.”
The Musudan is believed to be capable or reaching as far the U.S. territory of Guam.
U.S. analyst John Schilling said the flight of the second missile happened too soon after the first launch.
“They will very likely claim this test as a success but having flown only about a tenth of the Musudan’s expected maximum range would make it hard to credit it as more than partially successful,” Schilling said.