|A Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile test launch|
By: Eric Talmadge
TOKYO — North Korea said Monday it is ready to start mass-producing a new medium-range missile after a weekend test launch confirmed its combat readiness. It called the missile, capable of reaching Japan and major U.S. military bases there, an "answer" to U.S. President Donald Trump's policies.
The solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile flew about 310 miles and reached a height of 350 miles on Sunday before plunging into the Pacific Ocean. North Korea's media said more missiles will be launched in the future.
Trump, traveling in Saudi Arabia and Israel, had no immediate public comment.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the launch and watched from an observation post, state media reported Monday. The Korean Central News Agency said the test verified technical aspects of the weapon system and examined its "adaptability under various battle conditions" before it is deployed to military units.
Kim reportedly said the launch was a success, "approved the deployment of this weapon system for action" and said that it should "be rapidly mass-produced."
North Korea has significantly speeded up its missile tests over the past year or so and appears to be making tangible progress toward developing an arsenal that poses a threat to South Korea and Japan — which together host about 80,000 U.S. troops — and developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland United States.
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