WASHINGTON — Pentagon officials confirmed Thursday that North Korea tested a short to intermediate-range missile from a “sea-based platform” earlier this week but said there is no indication the projectile was launched from a submarine.
Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Pentagon reporters the projectile traveled about 280 miles and landed in the Sea of Japan. He said it was launched from waters near Wonsan, North Korea, in the northeastern part of the country.
The Pukguksong-3 missile launched on Wednesday more likely came from a barge or some variance of an underwater platform, Pentagon officials said. North Korea has a small fleet of submarines, none of which are known to be capable of launching a missile, according to Pentagon officials.
The missile launched Wednesday reached an altitude of 565 miles, higher than any other short-range weapons, according to news reports.
“This morning Defense Secretary Esper had a call with Japanese Minister of Defense Kono where they discussed North Korea. They both agreed that the North Korea tests are unnecessarily provocative and do not set the stage for diplomacy and that North Korea should cease these tests,” Jonathan Hoffman, chief Pentagon spokesperson, told Pentagon reporters on Thursday.
President Trump has dismissed the 10 previous North Korean missile tests this year on the grounds that they were short-range missiles and not in violation of any treaty. A medium-range missile, such as this test, would violate some treaties and poses a greater threat to Japan and South Korea.
The test was the first underwater launch by North Korea in three years. It occurred just before gasping nuclear talks with U.S. are expected to resume, perhaps as soon as this weekend.
Nuclear talks between the U.S. and North Korea have been off the shelf since February when Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended their second summit with no agreement.