S. Korea: N. Korea’s new missile not capable of reaching Guam

SEOUL-- South Korea's military said Monday that North Korea's newly developed ballistic missile, called the Pukguksong-2, is seen as a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) with a range of up to 2,500 kilometers.

It means the missile can't reach Guam, about 3,500 km away from the communist nation. Guam is a refueling and staging hub for the U.S. military operations in East Asia. It's also home to several U.S. strategic bombers.

"It's believed to be an MRBM in terms of the flight distance when launched at a normal angle," Army Col. Roh Jae-cheon, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), told reporters.

An MRBM is said to have a range of 800-2,500 km and a missile with the range of 2,500-5,500 km is usually categorized as an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM).

His comments came after the secretive communist nation's assertion that its latest missile test Sunday afternoon was successful.

Fired from a site northeast of Pyongyang, the missile soared to some 560 km and traveled more than 500 km before landing in the East Sea.

The North's media said the test of the Pukguksong-2 missile using solid fuel was conducted under the guidance of leader Kim Jong-un. He was quoted as telling the military to put the missile into actual operation.

"Saying with pride that the missile's rate of hits is very accurate and Pukguksong-2 is a successful strategic weapon, he approved the deployment of this weapon system for action," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

It added Kim was satisfied with the images of the Earth sent in real time from a camera mounted on the missile.

The North appears to be taking a dual-track approach in its nuclear program, seeking to develop the Pukguksong-2 missile that can be launched on a mobile launcher and the liquid-fueled Hwasong-12 IRBM with the aim of mastering technology for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Asked if the Pukguksong-2 is presumed to be capable of striking Guam, the JCS official said, it seems like the North is not there yet, citing an analysis by related authorities here.

Roh wouldn't be drawn into a question related to Pyongyang's claim of the Earth photos.

"It's a matter that needs to be confirmed (through additional analysis)," he said.

He was also cautious about whether the North has the missile technology for atmospheric re-entry.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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