WARSAW - North Korea’s latest missile test is a “serious threat” to the Pacific region and the globe, said NATO’s military operations commander.
The North conducted a submarine missile launch late Friday off the coast of the port city of Sinpo.
Initial indications show the missile apparently fell over the Sea of Japan, according to U.S. Strategic command, which tracked the launch.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the missile's engine ignited, but exploded about 10 kilometers into the air. A similar test in April also failed.
North Korea leader “Kim Jong Un and his regime continues to test and work on their ballistic missile capability, and with every launch they’re getting better and they’re working out their problems," U.S. General Curtis Scaparrotti said.
Scaparrotti, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), told reporters at the NATO Summit in Warsaw Saturday.
Scaparrotti said North Korea is now using Musudan missiles with regional ranges, but lessons learned from these tests can be transferred to its intercontinental ballistic missiles capability.
When asked if he worried about the potential for a North Korean missile to hit the continental U.S., the general responded, “I do.”
The North Korean test came one day after the United States and South Korea announced plans to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on the Korean peninsula to counter North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile development programs.
China, Russia and North Korea on Friday expressed their strong opposition to the U.S. THAAD deployment in South Korea and urged the two countries to put a stop to it.
China's Foreign Ministry summoned the American and South Korean ambassadors to lodge complaints.
At the same time, China, as North Korea's key ally, has urged North Korean leader Kim to return to international talks and dismantle its nuclear program in return for economic assistance and security guarantees.