Hong Kong (CNN)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was thousands of miles away from home, but Kim Jong Un’s message was loud and clear — think twice before getting too cozy with the new US President.
Abe, who is visiting the United States, and Japan were likely the main audience for North Korea’s Sunday missile launch.
From Paul Begley
“This is clearly directed at Japan,” said Carl Schuster, a professor at Hawaii Pacific University and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center.
Though South Korea worries about any developments in Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear capabilities, experts note that the rhetoric from the North has been much quieter and less hostile since the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
“For the last month or so they’ve been very careful not to do things that could be provocative in South Korea,” former US Ambassador Christopher Hill told CNN. “The usual betting is when North Korea provokes in this kind of way, the harder line, the right-of-center, tends to benefit in (South) Korea.”
Abe called the test “absolutely intolerable,” while Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said it was “a clear provocation to Japan and the region.”
South Korean officials say analysis suggests the missile is a modified intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), a Musudan-level missile.
It flew 500 kilometers (310 miles) before crashing in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, sources said.
IRBMs typically have a range of 3,000 to 5,500 kilometers (1,864 to 3,417 miles) — much farther than needed to hit South Korea, but not long enough to hit the lower 48 states (though Guam is in its range.)