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SitRep: North Korea Conducts Longest Missile Test Yet

SitRep: North Korea Conducts Longest Missile Test Yet

 

By Paul McLeary with Adam Rawnsley

Kim’s missiles. North Korea fired another ballistic missile over Japan on Friday, issuing another direct challenge to Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul, just weeks after a similar test over Japanese territory rattled nerves across the island.

Going the distance. It was the longest-ever flight by a North Korean missile, reaching an altitude of 480 miles and flying 2,300 miles out into the Pacific. The last North Korean missile that overflew Japan in August reached a height of 340 miles and flew 1,700 miles.

Tracking it. American and Japanese missile defense systems remained quiet during the test. “The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined this ballistic missile did not pose a threat to North America,” said Cmdr. Dave Benham of the U.S. Pacific Command. He added the U.S, military “determined this ballistic missile did not pose a threat to Guam,” a major U.S. base in the Pacific that is within the missile’s range.

Response. Just minutes after the intermediate range ballistic missile blasted off just before 7 a.m. local time on Friday, South Korea launched its Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missile off its east coast in a simulated pre-emptive strike, South Korean officials said.

Nuke test. The top U.S. general in charge of the nation’s nuclear enterprise says that North Korea likely tested a hydrogen bomb on Sept. 3. Air Force General John Hyten told reporters Thursday “I‘m assuming it was a hydrogen bomb. I have to make that assumption as a military officer…I can tell you the size that we observed and saw tends to me to indicate that it was a hydrogen bomb and I have to figure out what the right response is with our allies as to that kind of event.”

Terror attack in London. “This was a detonation of an improvised explosive device,” a top U.K. counterterorrism official said Friday morning after an explosion injured 18 people aboard a London subway car. A rudimentary explosive device, shown in an image circulated on social media as a bucket on fire, exploded on a train at the Parson’s Green station early Friday morning, leading 18 people to suffer minor injuries as they fled the area.

Yemen strike. Three suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in a U.S. drone strike in southern Yemen on Thursday, a local security official said. The U.S. has launched over 90 airstrikes against al Qaeda militants in Yemen this year, and as FP recently reported, American Special Operations Forces are working alongside Emirati and Yemeni ground forces to rout the resurgent militants, by providing advice and logistical help. Earlier this year, a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in a firefight with AQ fighters in Yemen, and a $75 million helicopter had to be destroyed after it crash landed during the same fight.

American ISIS captured. U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces picked up an American citizen who was fighting with the Islamic State, handing him over to U.S. forces operating in Syria, the Pentagon has confirmed.

“The US citizen is being legally detained by Department of Defense personnel as a known enemy combatant,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway emailed FP. First reported by the Daily Beast, the incident is the Trump administration’s first real test of its detainee policy. Then-candidate Trump said on the campaign trail last year that he would re-open the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, but the administration has yet to fully define a detainee policy.

Welcome to SitRep. As always, please send any tips, thoughts or national security events to paul.mcleary@foreignpolicy.com or via Twitter: @paulmcleary.

No nukes. South Korean President Moon Jae-in puts an end to speculation about whether his country will build its own nuclear weapons or accept a return of American tactical nuclear weapons in response to North Korea’s weapons programs. “To respond to North Korea by having our own nuclear weapons will not maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia,” Moon told CNN in an interview.

Bomb threats. Someone has been calling in a hundreds of fake bomb threats against public places all across Russia over the past week, raising questions about who or what is behind the rash of hoax threats that have caused mass evacuations and panic around the country.

Cruise missiles. Russian submarines in the Mediterranean Sea fired another volley of Kalibr cruise missile at Islamic State targets in Deir ez-Zor province on Thursday. Local activists claim around 20 civilians were killed in the bombardment. In the meantime, the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition says Syrian Democratic Forces will not enter the city of Deir ez-Zor, recently captured by Assad regime forces, reducing the chances of a clash between the two sides.

Polls. A new poll of Iraqis by the Almustakilla for Research group finds that Iraqi Sunnis are surprisingly upbeat about their political future in the wake of the Islamic State’s defeat while the just 36 percent of the country’s Shiite residents felt Iraq was moving in the right direction. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi also earns high marks for his conciliatory embrace of Iraq’s Sunni population during the war against the Islamic State, performing better in polls among Iraq’s Sunnis than among his Shiite political base.

Sanctions. The Treasury Department passed a new round of sanctions on Iranian entities, designating 11 new entities for their role in helping Iran’s missile programs and hackers.

Rainy day fund. The Gulf boycott of Qatar has led the kingdom to spend around $38 billion or nearly a quarter of its annual GDP in order to prop up its economy, according to an estimate by Moody’s.

Stiffarm. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy is in Mynamar to address the growing crisis of violence against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority but government officials have blocked him from visiting an area where Rohingya insurgents attacked military facilities that triggered the recent crackdown. Instead, Murphy will visit the capital of Rakhine state and meet with its governor.

Cuba mystery. The hearing loss and brain injuries caused by a mysterious weapon aimed at American diplomats in Cuban may not have been a “sonic weapon” after all, according to the AP. Experts say that acoustic devices are incapable of causing the concussions and traumatic brain injuries suffered by diplomats in Havana.

 

Photo Credit: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images