According to Yonhap News, North Korea appears to have staged a low-intensity provocation with its test-firing of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), seeking to see how the new U.S. administration will respond while avoiding provoking Washington too much.
The North launched a ballistic missile, presumed to be the Musudan, at around 7:55 a.m. from Banghyon air base in the western province of North Pyongan Province. It flew about 500 kilometers before falling into the East Sea. Its flight distance indicates it was not an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
The North likely opted to launch the IRBM this time, instead of an ICBM capable of striking the U.S. mainland, in order not to overly antagonize the new Donald Trump administration, they said.
“Today’s missile launch was definitely a low-intensity armed provocation to test the response from the Trump government. North Korea is likely to wait and see what policies Washington will adopt for before carrying out an ICBM test,” Cho Seong-ryol, an analyst at Institute for National Security Strategy, said.