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North Korea's Missile Tests Show Progress

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A man watches a TV news program reporting a missile launch of North Korea, at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A man watches a TV news program reporting a missile launch of North Korea, at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

North Korea appears to have successfully launched a mid-range missile after several recent failures.

U.S. and South Korean officials said North Korea conducted two tests of its Musudan missile Wednesday.

The first missile failed shortly after launch and crashed into the Sea of Japan, also known as East Sea in Korea. But the second was able to fly about 400 kilometers before falling into the sea.

U.S. military officials said the missile did not reach the 3,000-kilometer distance it was designed for. It apparently also did not demonstrate the technical ability to accurately hit a target.

But analysts believe the latest test did show that North Korea continues to learn from each failure. Since the second missile did not crash very quickly, it showed clear progress, they said.

North Korea is believed to have up to 30 Musudan missiles, which were first deployed around 2007. The first known Musudan test happened in April this year.

Jeffrey Lewis is the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California.

“This is a very important milestone because the previous launches had blown up either very shortly after launch or possibly even right at launch. So this is a real sign of progress.”

International tensions increased this year when North Korea carried out a nuclear test in January and launched a long-range rocket one month later.

The United Nations Security Council ordered strict sanctions on North Korea for carrying out those tests. The U.N. has also condemned the country’s human rights record.

North Korea’s missile tests in recent months show the sanctions have not had much effect, according to Lewis. Pyongyang is still able to get materials and technology for making the weapons, he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared his country a nuclear state and responded to sanctions by conducting more missile tests.

Reactions to missile test

Japan said it would issue a strong protest to North Korea for the latest violation of U.N. sanctions. Japan's Self Defense Forces have been on high alert in case North Korean missiles enter its airspace. Anti-missile launchers are stationed around Japan.

South Korea called the missile test a clear provocation “against us.” A South Korean spokesman, Jeong Joon-hee, urged North Korea to “put more effort into peace on the Korean peninsula and their people's livelihood.”

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby condemned the launch. He said the United States planned to raise its concerns at the U.N. and try to get international support to hold North Korea “accountable for these provocative actions.”

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Brian Padden reported this story for VOAnews.com. Bryan Lynn adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

accurately – adj. correct, exact

milestone – n. action or event marking significant change

long-range adj. long-distance

respond v. to do something as a reaction to something that has happened or been done​

conduct v. to plan and do (something, such as an activity)​

issue v. to give (something) to someone in an official way​

provocation – n. act or statement making someone annoyed or angry

peninsula – n. a piece of land that is almost entirely surrounded by water and is attached to a larger land area​

livelihoodn. earning money in order to live

accountable adj. required to be responsible for something

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