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ROCKET SCIENCE
N. Korea's 'new missile' has unprecedented range: experts
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) May 15, 2017


US, Japan request emergency UN Security Council session on N.Korea: diplomats
United Nations, United States (AFP) May 14, 2017 - The United States and Japan on Sunday called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on North Korea after Pyongyang carried out its latest missile test, diplomats said.

The meeting has been scheduled in principle for Tuesday afternoon, according to the UN mission of Uruguay, which currently holds the council's presidency.

North Korea launched a ballistic missile early on Sunday in what was seen as a challenge to South Korea's new President Moon Jae-In, a liberal who has said he wants to ease tensions with the North.

It was the North's second missile firing in two weeks, and came amid mounting international concern over Pyongyang's progress in developing nuclear weapons that could be carried by long-range missiles.

The latest projectile, launched from a military base in Kusong near the country's northwest coast, traveled some 435 miles (700 kilometers) before landing in the Sea of Japan.

"There are no excuses that justify N. Korea's actions," Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, tweeted. "This was close to home for Russia. China cant expect dialogue. This threat is real."

In Brussels, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu called Pyongyang's move "a new flagrant breach of a series of United Nations Security Council Resolutions," constituting "a threat to international peace and security."

And EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic denounced the launch as "a threat to international peace and security (that could) further aggravate tensions in the region at a time when de-escalation is instead needed."

For weeks, the Trump administration has been demanding a tightening of sanctions against the North and urging a tougher stance by Beijing, Pyongyang's principal ally.

Haley said on ABC that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was "in a state of paranoia."

"And so what we're going to do is continue to tighten the screws," she said. "He feels it. He absolutely feels it. And we're going to continue, whether it's sanctions, whether it's press statements, anything that we have to do."

US President Donald Trump issued a brief statement calling for tougher sanctions. "Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea," he said.

The US Treasury indicated it was examining all possible means to cut off international financing to Pyongyang.

But the strong focus on sanctions seemed to be a step away from the more threatening language Trump had used earlier in the year, when he sent a US Navy strike group steaming toward Korean waters and pointedly refused to take the military option off the table.

North Korea said Monday it had successfully tested a new type of rocket in its latest missile launch, as analysts said it showed an unprecedented range that brought US bases in the Pacific within reach.

Sunday's launch was of a "new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket" named the Hwasong-12, the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Leader Kim Jong-Un personally oversaw the test, it said, and "hugged officials in the field of rocket research, saying that they worked hard to achieve a great thing".

The isolated North is under multiple sets of United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes, which have triggered global alarm.

The missile was launched on an unusually high trajectory, with KCNA saying it flew to an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometres and travelled 787 kilometres before coming down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

That suggests a range of 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) or more if flown for maximum distance, analysts said.

Aside from space launches, Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in the US told AFP: "This is the longest range missile North Korea has ever tested."

On the respected 38 North website, aerospace engineering specialist John Schilling said it appeared to demonstrate an intermediate-range ballistic missile that could "reliably strike the US base at Guam" in the Pacific.

"More importantly," he added, it "may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)".

- 'Won't happen' -

The North says it needs atomic weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion and has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of last year.

Its goal is to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States -- something President Donald Trump has vowed "won't happen".

Tensions between the two reached a peak in recent weeks, with Washington saying military action was an option under consideration and Pyongyang issuing threats of its own, sending fears of conflict spiralling.

Trump later appeared to hold open the door to negotiations, saying he would be "honoured" to meet Kim and called him a "smart cookie".

Last week the South elected a new president, Moon Jae-In, who advocates reconciliation with Pyongyang and said at his inauguration that he was willing "in the right circumstances" to visit the North to ease tensions.

But he slammed the latest missile test as a "reckless provocation" after holding an emergency meeting with national security advisers.

Dialogue would be possible "only if the North changes its attitude", he said.

- Strategic balance -

In April the North put dozens of missiles on show at a giant military parade through the streets of Pyongyang, including one that appeared to be the type of device launched on Sunday.

The test "proved to the full all the technical specifications of the rocket" which was "capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead", KCNA said.

There are doubts whether Pyongyang can miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it into a missile nose cone, and no evidence it has mastered the re-entry technology needed to ensure it survives returning into Earth's atmosphere.

But it described another launch earlier this year as a drill for an attack on US bases in Japan -- which has long been within its range.

Schilling said the ability to hit Guam, 3,400 kilometres away, was not a game-changer, but that the new missile could be a step along the way.

"What would change the strategic balance is an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland," he said.

"This is not that missile but it might be a testbed, demonstrating technologies and systems to be used in future ICBMs."

The North could be testing ICBM subsystems in a "low-key manner" to "hedge" against the possibility of US military action, he added.

KCNA cited Kim as saying that the US strategy of what it called "militarily browbeating only weak countries and nations which have no nukes" would never work on the North.

"If the US dares opt for a military provocation against the DPRK, we are ready to counter it," it said.

- 'Flagrant menace' -

The United States called for tougher sanctions against the North, with the White House saying it "has been a flagrant menace for far too long".

The missile came down "so close to Russian soil... the president cannot imagine that Russia is pleased", it added in a statement.

Russia's defence ministry later said the missile landed about 500 kilometres from its territory and posed no threat.

Washington and Tokyo called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

China, Pyongyang's sole major ally and main trading partner, which has been under growing US pressure to help rein in its wayward neighbour, urged restraint.

"All relevant parties should exercise restraint and refrain from further aggravating tensions in the region," said Beijing's foreign ministry.

ROCKET SCIENCE
NASA Affirms Plan for First Mission of SLS, Orion
Washington DC (SPX) May 15, 2017
In February, NASA began an effort looking at the feasibility of putting crew aboard the first integrated flight of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft - Exploration Mission-1, or EM-1. After weighing the data and assessing all implications, the agency will continue pursuing the original plan for the first launch, as a rigorous flight test of the integrated systems without crew. H ... read more

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