Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NKorea Launches ICBM in Possibly Its Longest-Range Test Yet

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NKorea Launches ICBM in Possibly Its Longest-Range Test Yet

Article excerpt

SEOUL, South Korea * After 2 months of relative peace, North Korea launched its most powerful weapon yet early Wednesday, a presumed intercontinental ballistic missile that could put Washington and the entire eastern U.S. seaboard within range. Resuming its torrid testing pace in pursuit of its goal of a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles that can hit the U.S. mainland had been widely expected, but the apparent power and suddenness of the new test still jolted the Korean Peninsula and Washington. The launch at 3:17 a.m. local time and midday Tuesday in the U.S. capital indicated an effort to perfect the element of surprise and to obtain maximum attention in the United States.

The firing is a clear message of defiance aimed at the administration of President Donald Trump, which had just restored the North to a U.S. list of terrorism sponsors. It also ruins nascent diplomatic efforts, raises fear of war or a pre-emptive U.S. strike and casts a deeper shadow over the security of the Winter Olympics early next year in South Korea.

A rattled Seoul responded by almost immediately launching three of its own missiles in a show of force. The South's president, Moon Jae-in, expressed worry that North Korea's growing missile threat could force the United States to attack the North before it masters a nuclear-tipped long-range missile, something experts say may be imminent.

"If North Korea completes a ballistic missile that could reach from one continent to another, the situation can spiral out of control," Moon said at an emergency meeting in Seoul, according to his office. "We must stop a situation where North Korea miscalculates and threatens us with nuclear weapons or where the United States considers a pre-emptive strike."

Moon, a liberal who has been forced into a more hawkish stance by the stream of weapons tests, has repeatedly declared that there can be no U.S. attack on the North without Seoul's approval, but many worry that Washington may act without input.

The launching is North Korea's first since it fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan on Sept. 15, and may have broken any efforts at diplomacy meant to end the North's nuclear ambitions. …

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