Despite assertions North Korea’s recent missile launch was meant to tweak its rivals, a government source says it was intended to honor the birthday of the late Kim Jong Il.
Asked whether there was any credence to American, Japanese and Chinese assertions — or whether the launch was meant to satisfy military or scientific purposes, or to honor Kim — the source sent a written response to CNN.
Pentagon: Launch shows new capabilities
It was the “best possible gift for Generalissimo Kim Jong Il on his 75th birthday,” said the source, whom CNN is not naming. Kim died in 2011.
The Day of the Shining Star, a two-day celebration of Kim’s birth, is set to begin Thursday. In addition to concerts, fireworks and military displays, North Koreans will flock to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the former leader and his father were laid to rest.
The North Korean response also said the rocket, which began as a submarine-launched ballistic missile, took six months to build and that it was fired with a steep trajectory to ensure the safety of neighboring nations.
Questions unanswered
It was not clear if the source was refuting speculation that the launch, confirmed Sunday, was meant to coincide with a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump in the United States.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the launch was “a clear provocation to Japan and the region. ” Tokyo lodged protests against North Korea via its embassy in Beijing, he said.
The North Korean source’s statement also didn’t address Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang’s explanation Monday that “the root cause” of the launch “is the conflicts between North Korea and the United States, as well as between North and South Korea. ”
According to state-run Korean Central News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally ordered the launch of the previously unpublicized medium long-range Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile Sunday.

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