Three US officials confirmed on Friday that the US intelligence community is trying to determine if the ballistic missile North Korea tested earlier this week had properties the US has not seen before.
According to the officials, one of the three ballistic missiles North Korea has launched on Wednesday flew an unusual trajectory that two officials described as a “double arc” – the missile ascended and then descended twice – with the second phase possibly being a re-entry vehicle breaking off from the main missile.
They presume this trajectory may indicate North Korea’s goal was to test its ability to fire a missile and have it re-entered into the Earth’s atmosphere to reach a target and one official noted it’s still not clear to the US if that was all part of the planned flight path, emphasizing that all three test launches, according to the US intelligence assessment, is still in the preliminary stages.
The three launches, each of which occurred within the span of an hour, come amid concerns that North Korea is preparing for its first underground nuclear test since 2017 with South Korea warning that its neighbor was testing a detonation device for a nuclear test, which could be a precursor to an actual test.
The joint statement from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Friday has expressed the three countries’ deep concern about the May 25 launches of an intercontinental ballistic missile and shorter-range ballistic missiles by DPRK.
They emphasized that since September 2021, the DPRK has significantly increased the pace and scale of its ballistic missile launches each of which violated multiple UNSC resolutions, posing at the same time a grave threat to the region and the international community.