North Korea says new ICBM puts America’s mainland within range of nuclear weapons
NORTH Korea said it successfully tested a powerful new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) yesterday that put the entire United States (U.S.) mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.
North Korea, which also conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test in September, has fired dozens of ballistic missiles tests under its leader, Kim Jong Un, in defiance of international sanctions. The latest test was the highest and longest any North Korean missile had flown, landing in the sea near Japan.
North Korea said the new missile reached an altitude of around 4,475 km (2,780 miles) - more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station - and flew 950 km (590 miles) during its 53-minute flight. “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.
North Korea described itself as a “responsible nuclear power”, saying its strategic weapons were developed to defend itself from “the U.S. imperialists’ nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat”.
Many nuclear experts say the North has yet to prove it has mastered all technical hurdles, including the ability deliver a heavy nuclear warhead reliably atop an ICBM, but it was likely that it soon would.
United States, Japanese and South Korean officials all agreed the missile, which landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, was likely an ICBM. The test did not pose a threat to the U.S., its territories or allies, the Pentagon said.
“It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken, a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world, basically,” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the White House. Trump spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon JaeIn, with all three leaders reaffirming their commitment to combat the North Korean threat.
“It is a situation that we will handle,” Trump told reporters.
Trump, who was briefed on the missile while it was in flight, said it did not change his administration’s approach to North Korea, which has included new curbs to hurt trade between China and North Korea. Washington has said repeatedly that all options, including military ones, are on the table in dealing with North Korea while stressing its desire for a peaceful solution.