North Korea missile could reach Alaska
First intercontinental missile launch claimed, flies higher and further than other tests
SEOUL, KOREA, REPUBLIC OF — North Korea on Tuesday claimed it successfully test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile, a potential game-changing development in what may be the world’s most dangerous nuclear standoff and, if true, a direct rebuke to U.S. President Donald Trump’s earlier declaration that such a test “won’t happen!”
The launch appeared to be North Korea’s most successful missile test yet. A U.S. scientist examining the height and distance said the missile could potentially be powerful enough to reach Alaska.
In typically heated rhetoric, North Korea’s Academy of Defence Science said the test of an ICBM — the Hwasong-14 — marked the “final step” in creating a “confident and powerful nuclear state that can strike anywhere on Earth.”
It will be difficult to confirm many details about what happened. North Korea’s weapons program is perhaps the most closely held state secret in one of the world’s most suspicious nations.
Later Tuesday, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said Ambassador Nikki Haley had asked for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council following the North Korean claim. The meeting is expected to take place Wednesday afternoon.
North Korea has previously launched satellites in what critics said were disguised tests of its longrange missile technology. A testlaunch of an ICBM, however, would be a major step in developing nuclear-armed missiles that could reach anywhere in the United States.
The launch sends a political warning to Washington and its chief Asian allies, Seoul and Tokyo, while also allowing North Korean scientists a chance to perfect their still-incomplete nuclear missile program. It came on the eve of the U.S. Independence Day holiday, days after the first face-to-face meeting of the leaders of South Korea and the United States.
U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials say the missile flew for about 40 minutes and reached an altitude of 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles), which would be longer and higher than any similar North Korean test previously reported. One U.S. missile scientist, David Wright, estimated that the highly lofted missile, if the reported time and distance are correct, could have a possible maximum range of 6,700 kilometres (4,160 miles), which could put Alaska in its range.
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of the British Armed Forces Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Regiment, said that “in capability of missile terms and delivery, it is a major step up and they seem to be making progress week-on-week.” He added, however, that “actually marrying the warhead to the missile is probably the biggest challenge, which they appear not to have progressed on.”
This photo distributed by the North Korean government shows what was said to be the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile.