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Published On: Mon, May 15th, 2017

Is North Korea aiming at the Moon? The farce about Pyongyang’s 2,000 km altitude missile

nsnbc : On May 13 North Korea launched what it described as a new medium-range missile that dropped into the middle of the Sea of Japan after having covered some 800 kilometers within its 23 minutes flight. Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said, according to Kyodo news agency, the missile reached an altitude of more than 2,000 kilometers, and major international media “ran with the story” – no small feat, considering that the orbit of the International Space Station is at about 350 km. So now, the world needs a new UN Security Council meeting – not about sloppy journalism but about Pyongyang’s firecracker.

South Korea's newly elected President Moon Jae-in.

South Korea’s newly elected President Moon Jae-in.

The People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) a.k.a. North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Sunday from a area north-west of the town of Kusong near the western coast. The Missile crossed the DPRK’s territory and flew about 800 kilometers before it fell into the Sea of Japan, about midway between North Korea and Japan. Japanese government sources would concede that the missile did not enter Japan’s economic exclusion zone (EEZ). The launch from the Kusong region was not unprecedented. The last time a medium-range missile was launched from there was in February 2016.

What was unprecedented was the response in Japanese media and a subsequent barrage of misinformation – or call it sloppy journalism if you will – when major international media picked up a false story and ran with it. A missile test-fired by North Korea on Sunday morning reached the altitude of more than 2,000 kilometers and could be a new type of missile, Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said – at least according to Japan’s Kyodo news agency. “The altitude of the missile’s flight topped 2,000 kilometers. There is a possibility that it was a new type of a missile,” the Kyodo news agency quoted her as saying. The 2,000 kilometers altitude “mistake” was readily regurgitated by CNN, and etc….

The former commander of Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force, Makoto Yamazaki, said that initial information points out that the missile was able to cover over 4,000 kilometers and hit targets at the Pacific island of Guam, a US island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific.

“The missile covered the distance of about 800 kilometers within 30 minutes. Based on this information, we may conclude that it was fired at a steeper angle than usual, and the maximum altitude of its flight was about 1,500 kilometers. When launched at a regular angle, a rocket of this type can cover a distance of 4,000 kilometers,” he said, adding that this distance was enough to hit Guam. Based on that information, some Japanese media claimed the missile had reached an altitude of – not 2,000 but 4,000 kilometers.

The Hawaii-based US Pacific Command, which had detected and assessed the missile launch, said earlier it had come to a conclusion that “the flight was not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile.” The command did not specify what in the flight path was not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Unsubstantiated claims about the missile having been an ICBM (or consistent with the flight characteristics of an ICBM) are specially interesting because – the missile lacked some of the most important features of ICBM’s  – such as an re-entry vehicle – just to mention one of many. But the launch of Pyongyang’s latest firecracker did of course prompt calls for a new UN Security Council meeting, hosted by self-anointed permanent Security Council members who are armed to the teeth with ICBMs and nuclear warheads, to slam new sanctions against the unruly and dangerous North Korea.

Convenient “mistakes” in the reporting of major media, that the missile had reached an altitude of 2,000 kilometers (or more) are of course extremely helpful when one wants to railroad a global public into believing the “rogue Kim” narrative. It’s of course sad that Pyongyang’s own propaganda machine also lacks vision. A report in Rodong Sinmun or KCNA, that Pyongyang is aiming at the Moon would have been fun – but seriously – Pyongyang may have sent a signal to South Korea’s newly elected President Moon – saying we are willing to accept your offer to talk de-escalation from a position of strength.

CH/L – nsnbc 15.05.207

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