North Korea Claims Its Missiles Can Now Reach Entire US Mainland

South Korean people watch a television displaying news broadcasts reporting on North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch, at a station in Seoul, South Korea. 29 November 2017. (Photo by KIM HEE-CHUL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

North Korea claims that the latest intercontinental ballistic missile it launched is a new, nuclear-capable weapon that could reach the entire continental United States. The launch was confirmed earlier by officials in the neighboring countries, as well as the Pentagon, making it the first launch by Pyongyang since September.


“The missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 1,000 km before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning said in a statement.

The missile did not pose a threat to North America, its territories or its allies, the Department of Defense said.

Kim: North Korea becoming a “rocket power”

State television In Pyongyang said Wednesday the new ICBM was significantly more powerful than the previous long-range missiles the North tested. It said leader Kim Jong Un after the successful launch “declared with pride” that the country has achieved its goal.

“After watching the successful launch of the new type ICBM Hwasong-15, Kim Jong Un declared with pride that now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power,” according to a statement read by a television presenter, Reuters reports.

The new model is called Hwasong 15 and it reached an altitude of over 4000 kilometers (2.800 miles), making it the highest North Korean missile test to date, two US officials confirmed. It traveled for an estimated 50 minutes, the longest of the country’s missile flights, they added. These data would mean the range of the ICBM on a standard trajectory at 13,000km.

“This would be more than able to cover the continental United States, dependent on the weight of the mock warhead likely to have been placed on it,” Vipin Narang, associate professor of political science at MIT, told the BBC.

Pyongyang claims this missile completes the country’s rocket weaponry system development set. Officials also add the rocket was tipped with a “super-large heavy warhead” capable of hitting the whole of the mainland US. There is speculation that the rocket was fuelled horizontally, before being placed on the launch pad, the New York Times reports. Such a development would make the North’s missiles a harder target to hit in a pre-emptive attack by the US, the newspaper reports.

International reactions

US President Donald Trump reacted to the launch in an appearance before reporters at the White House, pledging, “We will take care of it … It is a situation that we will handle.” He then took to Twitter later during the day, putting the event in the context of current political events in Washington.

China’s foreign ministry said it was strongly against the missile launch, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

“The UN Security Council has clearly regulated North Korea’s missile test and technology. China is gravely concerned about and strongly opposed to North Korea’s missile test. China urges North Korea to implement the UNSC resolution, to stop any actions that would worsen the situation on the Korea Peninsula. In the meantime, we hope all relevant parties act cautiously and work together to keep regional stability,” Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said according to The Associated Press.

Russian authorities described the test as a provocation. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the launch had violated sanctions and shown “complete disregard for the united view of the international community”. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch an intolerable, violent act.

“We will never yield to any provocative act. We will maximise our pressure on Pyongyang,” Abe told reporters. Japan had completely tracked the missile, he added, asking for a uniform response from the international community.

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