In recent weeks, North Korea has conducted two tests of a new intercontinental ballistic missile system, Pentagon officials said Thursday, and Pyongyang may be preparing to conduct more tests disguised as space launches.
Defense officials said North Korea conducted tests on February 26 and March 4. They appeared to be the first tests of a new ICBM system that North Korea first unveiled at a military parade last October.
“The purpose of these tests, which did not demonstrate the range of the ICBM, was likely to evaluate this new system before performing a full-range test in the future, potentially disguised as a space launch,” the official said. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby in a statement. “The United States strongly condemns these launches, which constitute a brazen violation of several United Nations Security Council resolutions, unnecessarily heighten tensions and risk destabilizing the security situation in the region.
“We have been and will continue to coordinate closely with our allies and partners to address the threats posed by [North Korea] and to advance our common goal of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
Mr Kirby said that in response to the North Korean tests, the US Indo-Pacific Command earlier this week “ordered intensified surveillance activity” in the Yellow Sea off the Korean coast. US military personnel also “enhanced the readiness” of US ballistic missiles in the region.
The tests involved a missile that would be larger than the ICBM tested in 2017. This test triggered President Trump’s warning of ‘fire and fury’, although he eventually embarked on a diplomatic path with the northern dictator. -Korean Kim Jong Un.