After Decrying Alleged US Spy Flights, North Korea Lobs out More Test Missiles

mwreck /
mwreck /

Despite three months free from intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches, North Korea broke their silence on July 12th following days of repeated claims of US recon activities around their border. While presenting no confirmed intel or footage, their state-ran media has been rife with stories about the US getting ready to attack.

For the sake of the launch, experts have largely agreed that this was a launch from their latest road-mobile Hwasong-18 ICBM. Still in its developmental phase, this solid-fuel weapon is significantly harder to detect or intercept than a liquid-fuel missile.

According to North Korean President Kim Jong Un, it is the most powerful weapon in his entire nuclear incident.

Fired from near the capital of North Korea, the missile flew roughly 620 miles and reached over 3,730 miles above the earth, according to South Korean and Japanese assessments. They also tracked it plunging into the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the missile set a new North Korean record by flying for 74 minutes before touching back down. Previously, their record was 71 minutes. Given that the previous record was set by a Hwasong-17 ICBM, it makes sense that the next iteration showed improvement.

Meanwhile, both South Korea and Japan have called the launch a provocation, and they are fed up with Kim’s consistent attempts at disrupting the security and safety of South Korea and Japan.

As such, both countries and the US have already held multiple three-way calls to discuss how to respond to their actions. While no timetable has been set or actions specifically outlined, the main message is that the response would be direct.

Since 2017 North Korea has conducted ICBM testing with new fuels, but nothing of substance has come from these tests so far.

Yet they have significantly advanced their technology and ability to set new records. With a target of being able to reach major US cities, they claim they want to be able to strike the US before our systems know what is happening.

With short-range missiles designed for South Korea and Japan, the US focus behind their ICBM testing is unique as they have refused to consider that technology in Asian waters. Kim believes that once this latest ICBM is complete they will be able to “constantly strike extreme uneasiness and horror” in anyone who should oppose the Kim regime.

Given the difficulty in tracking supplies, materials, and movements of solid fuel ICBMs, nations are increasingly worried about the potential moves of Kim in the near and not-so-near future.

On July 10th, Kim’s sister and trusted advisor, Kim Yo Jong, told officials that the US flew a spy plane over their eastern economic zone, and warned the US of possible retaliations. Both US and South Korean officials warned them to watch their statements in the future to avoid any potential provocations without cause.

Matthew Miller works as a spokesman for the US State Department. In response to these claims and launch he spoke on July 11th about the statements.

“I would just say that we continue to urge (North Korea) to refrain from escalatory actions. As a matter of international law, (North Korea’s) recent statements that U.S. flights above its claimed exclusive economic zone are unlawful are unfounded, as high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in such areas.”

This isn’t the first or the last provocation from Kim over this issue. He seems to think he is made of Teflon, and that the US won’t do anything in retaliation.

Given the three-way relationship between North Korea, China, and Russia, this is a relationship that the US needs to handle appropriately, but given the lack of push by North Korea during the Trump years, we must wonder if Biden is capable of even dealing with this potential conflict.