N. Korea tests another missile
Analysts say device capable of reaching numerous U.S. cities
PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea on Friday test- fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew longer and higher than the first, according to its neighbors, leading analysts to conclude that a wide swath of the U. S., including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now within range of Pyongyang’s weapons.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the missile, launched late Friday, flew for about 45 minutes — about five minutes longer than the ICBM North Korea test-fired July 4. The missile was launched on very high trajectory, which limited the distance it traveled, and landed west of Japan’s island of Hokkaido.
“We assess that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, as had been expected,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in Washington.
Analysts had estimated that the North’s first ICBM could have reached Alaska, and they said Friday that the latest missile appeared to extend that range significantly.
David Wright, a physicist and co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in Washington that if reports of the missile’s maximum altitude and flight time are correct, it would have a theoretical range of about 6,500 miles. That means it could have reached Los Angeles, Denver and 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.
Bruce Klingner, a Korean and Japanese affairs specialist at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, said, “It now appears that a significant portion of the continental United States is within range” of North Korean missiles. Klingner recently met with North Korean officials to discuss denuclearization, the foundation said.
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.
President Donald Trump has said he will not allow North Korea to obtain an ICBM that can deliver a nuclear warhead.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch a “serious and real threat” to the country’s security.
Suga said Japan has lodged a strong protest with North Korea.
“North Korea’s repeated provocative acts absolutely cannot be accepted,” he said.
A spokesman for Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that Dunford met at the Pentagon with the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm. Harry Harris, to discuss U.S. military options in light of North Korea’s missile test.
The spokesman, Navy Capt. Greg Hicks, said Dunford and Harris placed a phone call to Dunford’s South Korean counterpart, Gen. Lee Sun Jin. Dunford and Harris “expressed the ironclad commitment to the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance,” Hicks said, referring to the U.S. defense treaty that obliges the U.S. to defend South Korea.
Abe said Japan would cooperate closely with the U.S., South Korea and other nations to step up pressure on North Korea to halt its missile programs.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile reached an estimated altitude of 2,300 miles before landing at sea about 625 miles away. It appeared to be more advanced than the ICBM North Korea previously launched, it said.
The Hwasong 14 ICBM test-fired earlier this month was also launched at a very steep angle, a technique called lofting, and reached an altitude of more than 1,550 miles before splashing down in the ocean 580 miles away. Analysts said that missile could be capable of reaching most of Alaska or possibly Hawaii if fired in an attacking trajectory.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched from North Korea’s northern Jagang province near the border with China. President Moon Jae-in presided over an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, which called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council and stronger sanctions on North Korea.
There was no immediate confirmation of the launch by North Korea. The day’s broadcast on state-run television had already ended when the news broke at around midnight Pyongyang time.
In North Korea, July 27 is a national holiday called Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War Day, marking the day when the armistice was signed ending the 1950-53 Korean War. That armistice is yet to be replaced with a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula technically in a state of war.
North Korea generally waits hours or sometimes a day or more before announcing launches, often with a raft of photos in the ruling party newspaper or on the television news. Kim Jong Un is usually shown at the site observing and supervising major launches.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in presides over an emergency meeting early today in Seoul. North Korea test-fired on Friday its second intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew longer and higher than its first earlier this month.