World ‘Surprise’ North Korea Missile Launch Didn't Fool U.S.

23:36  07 december  2017
23:36  07 december  2017 Source:   Newsweek

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Unlike most of North Korea ’ s recent launches , the missile fired early Monday was not of a new class of weapons. The North Koreans have a considerable stockpile of Scuds, which can fly up to 620 miles in modified trim; Monday’ s launch only flew 280 miles.

North Korea last week chose a night launch for its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile to date, to illustrate its ability to make a sneak attack. Problem is, the U . S . knew about it days ahead of time. U . S . military intelligence detected preparations for the missile event at least 72 hours.

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un is seen as the newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-15 was successfully launched, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang November 30.: 12_07_17_NKMissile © Reuters 12_07_17_NKMissile

North Korea last week chose a night launch for its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile to date, to illustrate its ability to make a sneak attack. Problem is, the U.S. knew about it days ahead of time.

U.S. military intelligence detected preparations for the missile event at least 72 hours before the launch on November 29, according to The Diplomat. A U.S. government source said officials observed North Koreans setting up the launch pad for the Hwasong-15 missile firing table three hours before the launch, and saw the missile being erected an hour later.

With its network of spy planes, satellites and drones hovering over North Korea, the U.S. demonstrated it was watching the 3 a.m. launch that North Korean state-run news agency KCNA claimed showed “the capability of making surprise launch of ICBM in any region and place any time.”

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North Korea launched another ballistic missile Friday morning and experts believe it may have been, for the first time, an intercontinental ballistic missile with the capability to strike the continental United States.

The visit Monday morning local time comes just one day after North Korea 's latest failed missile launch . Pence spent Easter Sunday with members of the U . S . and South Korean military in Seoul, affirming the U . S . commitment to the country.

The observation windows roughly matched the warning time U.S. intelligence had before North Korea’s previous two missile launches, which happened more than two months ago.

Unlike earler missile tests, for which observation stands were constructed for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, there was a mobile trailer for him for last week’s launch, suggesting the country tried to make the event more difficult to detect.

North Korea also broadened the range of its test sites this year. The site near Pyongsong where the Hwasong-15 was fired had not been used before.

The U.S. wasn’t the only country with early knowledge of the launch.

Japanese government officials had North Korea’s activity on their radar, but decided not to release the information to the public for fear it could compromise Tokyo’s relationship with allies. Japan depends heavily on the U.S. and South Korea for intelligence on North Korea.

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According to U . S . and South Korean authorities, the U . S . Pacific Command “detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 11:21 a.m. Hawaii time April 15.” The type of missile that was used is still being assessed. Last month, North Korea fired four

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that officials were fully aware of Pyongyang’s missile launch movements earlier in the day and that the country's crisis management system had no problems.

While the missile was still airborne, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, told news outlets that it “is expected to land within our exclusive economic zone,” The Asahi Shimbunreported.

Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. have heightened since the launch, with the U.S. carrying out large-scale, joint military drills with South Korea near the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang called the largest joint drill ever conducted by the two countries, involving 230 aircraft through Friday, a “grave provocation” and warned that the region is on the “brink” of nuclear warfare.

Mattis says North Korea missile can't reach US .
Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Friday he does not believe that North Korea's current intercontinental ballistic missiles are capable of hitting the continental US. North Korea's November ICBM "has not yet shown to be a capable threat against us right now," Mattis said during an off-camera briefing with reporters at the Pentagon on Friday. He added that the United States is still assessing the situation. "We are still examining the forensics, we're still doing the forensics analysis, it takes a while," he said.

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