North Korea tests coastal cruise missiles; Seoul delays THAAD expansion; Trump to Iran: blame’s on you for Tehran attack; SpaceX to launch USAF’s X-37B; and just a bit more…

North Korea launched multiple cruise-like missiles early this morning—and just hours after South Korea decided to temporarily shelve its plans to host more of the U.S. military’s THAAD missile defense systems.

“The missiles were launched Thursday morning from the North Korean coastal city of Wonsan and flew about 200 km (124 miles)” before crashing into the Sea of Japan, Reuters reports off a statement from South Korea’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The system North Korea used was most likely the Kumsong-3 TEL, according to The Diplomat’s Ankit Panda. His take: “from the available data, it is likely that the missiles may have been the new land-based version of North Korea’s Kh-35 (SS-N-25) variant, known by the United States as the KN-01 and by North Korea as the Kumsong-3.” Glimpse a picture of the alleged system rolling in Pyongyang’s April 15 military parade, here.

The big-picture take: “If Thursday’s test did indeed involve the new KN-01 CDCM TEL, North Korea will have shown off its fourth brand new missile system since February,” Panda reports. The others tested so far this year: “the Pukkuksong-2 medium-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, and a new ‘ultra-precision’ Scud.”

The impact could amount to a significant denial of “littoral space to U.S. and South Korean naval assets.” Consider, Panda adds, “North Korea conducted the test as U.S. aircraft carriers began to exit the Sea of Japan after conducting exercises.” Read the rest of his summary, here.

And the THAAD delay? “Two THAAD launchers that have already been installed will remain; four that arrived recently won’t,” The Atlantic wrote of the episode. “President Moon Jae-in’s office said an environmental review on THAAD’s impact on Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, where it is being deployed, could take up to a year…Last week, Moon’s office accused the Defense Ministry of keeping it in the dark about the four new launchers. THAAD’s critics say the system makes them a target for the North’s missile launches.”

In case you were curious, the Washington Post adds, “A full THAAD battery contains six launchers mounted on trucks, each capable of firing eight interceptor missiles.”

And the U.S. military’s reaction to the news: “The U.S. trusts the [South Korean] official stance that the THAAD deployment was an Alliance decision and it will not be reversed,” Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross told the Post. “We will continue to work closely with the [South Korean] government throughout this process.”

Back stateside: North Korea’s missiles are a “great concern” to Vice Adm. James Syring of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. He said as much to the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. Syring: “The advancements in the last six months have caused great concern to me… It is incumbent on us to assume that North Korea today can range the United States with an ICBM carrying a nuclear warhead.” Tiny bit more on that, here.


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Sympathize with, or scold Iran? President Trump had it both ways in his response statement to the ISIS-claimed attacks in the capital of Tehran on Wednesday. The official White House statement, “which expressed grief for the victims, concluded with the phrase ‘states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote,’” the Washington Post writes this morning.    

The response from Iran: The “Revolutionary Guard Corps issued a statement vowing to avenge the attack and described as ‘very meaningful’ that it happened just a week after President Trump” wrapped up his glowing-orb trip to the Middle East.

Oh, and about the attackers: Tehran’s Intelligence Ministry ID’d five as “Iranians who had left the country to join the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.”

Turkey sending more troops to Qatar? The Turkish parliament fast-tracked legislation written up before the whole Qatar spat, which would allow an unspecified number of Ankara’s troops to to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar, Reuters reported Wednesday. “The text of the draft bill, which includes the agreement between Qatar and Turkey on the base, shows the cooperation will be primarily about the modernisation of Qatar’s military, as well as widening cooperation in training and war exercises. The bill did not specify how many troops would go nor when.”

For some context to this deal, here’s Qatar-based al-Jazeera: “[T]wo deals were ratified in Turkey’s parliament; one allowing Turkish troops to be deployed in Qatar and another approving an accord between the two countries on military training cooperation…Turkey set up a military base in Qatar, its first such installation in the Middle East, as part of an agreement signed in 2014. The base, which has a capacity to accommodate up to 5,000 troops, already hosts 200 Turkish soldiers.” More here.

Germany pulling troops from Incirlik: “Germany said on Wednesday that it would withdraw its forces from a military base in southern Turkey after the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to guarantee visits to forces there by German lawmakers, deepening a rift between the NATO allies,” The New York Times reported. “The German defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, said that German surveillance planes were an important part of operations against the Islamic State. Not having them available for two or three months during the move, however, would have more of a symbolic than practical effect — putting two NATO allies publicly at odds rather than working together.” Read the rest, here.

France has a new counter-terrorism unit. It has about 20 people, and the goal is to help better coordinate CT efforts across the country, the Associated Press reports. “A top official at the French presidency said the new unit will notably determine strategies to fight against radicalization on the internet and diffusion online of instructions on how to carry out an attack. It will also focus on the issue of French citizens who joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq before trying to come back to national territory…The creation of the unit was a campaign promise of Macron, in a country marked by a series of attacks by Islamic extremists.”

Canada says it will boost military spending 70 percent over the coming decade. Defense Daily: “Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan on June 7 released a new policy titled, ‘Strong, Secure, Engaged,’ that commits to a range of new investments for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The long-term policy outlines growth in annual defense spending from $18.9 billion in 2017 to $32.7 billion in 2027.”

The new plan “places added attention on improving recruitment, retention, and training and increases the size of the active force by 3,500 to 71,500 and the reserves by 1,500 to 30,000 troops… It will also support growth in emerging domains such as space and cyber, and critical areas such as intelligence and Special Operations forces. Those include replacing the Boeing-built CF-18 fleet with 88 advanced fighter aircraft “through open and transparent competition.” More over here.

Beijing hits back at annual Pentagon report on China. What DoD flagged in that report: China’s “construction of a military base in Djibouti, its first overseas outpost, and [the U.S. military] said it expected China to seek to build bases in other friendly countries, including Pakistan,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

China’s defense is for safeguarding China’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday.

Added Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian on the following day: The Pentagon’s criticism’s are “based purely on speculation,” as China “isn’t pushing for military expansion, and isn’t seeking a sphere of influence.”

A bomb was reportedly hurled over the fence of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, early this morning—and it’s being treated as a terrorist attack, Fox News reports in this short hit. 

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