North Korea says 2nd ICBM test puts much of U.S. within range

Penticton Herald - - WORLD -

PY­ONGYANG, Korea, Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic Of — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said to­day the sec­ond flight test of an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile demon­strated his coun­try can hit the U.S. main­land, hours af­ter the launch left an­a­lysts con­clud­ing that a wide swath of the United States, in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les and Chicago, is now in range of North Korean weapons.

The Korean Cen­tral News Agency said that Kim ex­pressed “great sat­is­fac­tion” af­ter the Hwa­song-14 mis­sile reached a max­i­mum height of 3,725 kilo­me­tres and trav­elled 998 kilo­me­tres be­fore ac­cu­rately land­ing in wa­ters off Ja­pan. The agency said that the test was aimed at con­firm­ing the max­i­mum range and other tech­ni­cal as­pects of the mis­sile it says was ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing a “large-sized, heavy nu­clear war­head.”

An­a­lysts had es­ti­mated that the North’s first ICBM on July 4 could have reached Alaska, and said that the lat­est mis­sile ap­peared to ex­tend that range sig­nif­i­cantly.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the launch, U.S. and South Korean forces con­ducted live-fire ex­er­cises. South Korean De­fence Min­is­ter Song Young-moo called for the de­ploy­ment of strate­gic U.S. mil­i­tary as­sets — which usu­ally means stealth bombers and air­craft car­ri­ers — as well as ad­di­tional launch­ers of an ad­vanced U.S. anti-mis­sile sys­tem.

Ja­panese govern­ment spokesman Yoshi­hide Suga said the mis­sile, launched late Fri­day night, flew for about 45 min­utes — about five min­utes longer than the first. The mis­sile was launched on very high tra­jec­tory, which lim­ited the dis­tance it trav­elled, and landed west of Ja­pan’s is­land of Hokkaido.

The KCNA quoted Kim as say­ing that the launch reaf­firmed the re­li­a­bil­ity of the coun­try’s ICBM sys­tem and an abil­ity to fire at “ran­dom re­gions and lo­ca­tions at ran­dom times” with the “en­tire” U.S. main­land now within range. The agency said that the test con­firmed im­por­tant fea­tures of the mis­sile sys­tem, such as the proper sep­a­ra­tion of the war­head and con­trol­ling its move­ment and det­o­na­tion af­ter at­mo­spheric re-en­try.

Kim said the launch sent a “se­ri­ous warn­ing” to the United States, which has been “mean­ing­lessly blow­ing its trum­pet” with threats of war and stronger sanc­tions, the KCNA said.

The North Korean flight data was sim­i­lar to as­sess­ments by the United States, South Korea and Ja­pan.

David Wright, a physi­cist and co-di­rec­tor of the global se­cu­rity pro­gram at the Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists, said that if re­ports of the mis­sile’s max­i­mum al­ti­tude and flight time are cor­rect, it would have a the­o­ret­i­cal range of at least 10,400 kilo­me­tres (about 6,500 miles). That means it could have reached Los An­ge­les, Den­ver or Chicago, de­pend­ing on vari­ables such as the size and weight of the war­head that would be car­ried atop such a mis­sile in an ac­tual at­tack.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is­sued a state­ment con­demn­ing the mis­sile test as a threat to the world, and re­ject­ing North Korea’s claim that nu­clear weapons en­sure its se­cu­rity. “In re­al­ity, they have the op­po­site ef­fect,” he said.

Trump said the weapons and tests “fur­ther iso­late North Korea, weaken its econ­omy, and de­prive its peo­ple.” He vowed to “take all nec­es­sary steps” to en­sure the se­cu­rity of the U.S. and its al­lies.

Wash­ing­ton and its al­lies have watched with grow­ing con­cern as Py­ongyang has made sig­nif­i­cant progress to­ward its goal of hav­ing all of the U.S. within range of its mis­siles to counter what it la­bels as U.S. ag­gres­sion. There are other hur­dles, in­clud­ing build­ing nu­clear war­heads to fit on those mis­siles and en­sur­ing re­li­a­bil­ity. But many an­a­lysts have been sur­prised by how quickly leader Kim Jong Un has de­vel­oped North Korea’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams de­spite sev­eral rounds of U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sanc­tions that have squeezed the im­pov­er­ished coun­try’s econ­omy.

Trump has said he will not al­low North Korea to ob­tain an ICBM that can de­liver a nu­clear war­head. But this week, the De­fence In­tel­li­gence Agency re­port­edly con­cluded that the North will have a re­li­able ICBM ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing a nu­clear weapon as early as next year, in an as­sess­ment that trimmed two years from the agency’s ear­lier es­ti­mate.

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