An­a­lysts: N. Korea’s ICBM range has grown

Bulk of U.S. main­land could be at risk af­ter mis­sile test

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - Doug Stan­glin @dstan­glin USA TO­DAY

The Hwa­song-14 mis­sile landed in wa­ter near Ja­pan. It reached a max­i­mum height of 2,314 MILES and flew 620 MILES.

“Los An­ge­les, Den­ver, and Chicago ap­pear to be well within range of this mis­sile, and ... Bos­ton and New York may be just within range.” David Wright, of the Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists, on his All Things Nu­clear blog

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Sat­ur­day that the sec­ond flight test this month of an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile shows his coun­try can hit the U.S. main­land, a view shared by U.S. an­a­lysts who say a stretch from Los An­ge­les to Chicago now ap­pears tech­ni­cally within range of the North’s weapons.

Kim, ac­cord­ing to the Korean Cen­tral News Agency, ex­pressed “great sat­is­fac­tion” af­ter the Hwa­song-14 mis­sile reached a max­i­mum height of 2,314 miles and flew 620 miles be­fore land­ing in waters off Ja­pan.

The agency said the test was aimed at con­firm­ing the max­i­mum range and other as­pects of the mis­sile it says was ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing a “large-sized, heavy nu­clear war­head,” ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press.

Kim also noted that the rare night launch showed North Korea’s abil­ity to mount a sur­prise at­tack. The KCNA quoted him as say­ing 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 reach.

The July 4 test indi­cated that Alaska was tech­ni­cally in range, but not the U.S. main­land.

A U.S. ex­pert, David Wright, co-di­rec­tor and se­nior sci­en­tist for the Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists, wrote Sat­ur­day that Fri­day’s launch sent the mis­sile on a “very highly lofted tra­jec­tory” that nar­rowed its range but that one flown on a stan­dard

tra­jec­tory would have a range of 6,500 miles.

A chart “shows that Los An­ge­les, Den­ver, and Chicago ap­pear to be well within range of this mis­sile, and that Bos­ton and New York may be just within range,” he wrote on his blog All Things Nu­clear. “Wash­ing­ton, D.C., may be just out of range.”

What re­mains un­clear, Wright said, is the mass of the pay­load the lat­est test mis­sile car­ried. “If it was lighter than the ac­tual war­head the mis­sile would carry, the ranges would be shorter,” he said.

In­creas­ing alarm by Wash­ing­ton and its al­lies about the Fri­day night test was un­der­scored by an im­me­di­ate move by U.S. and South Korean forces to con­duct live-fire ex­er­cises.

In ad­di­tion, South Korean De­fense 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 for an ad­vanced U.S. anti-mis­sile sys­tem.

In Ja­pan, gov­ern­ment spokesman Yoshi­hide Suga said the mis­sile flew for about 45 min­utes — about five min­utes longer than on July 4 — be­fore land­ing west of Ja­pan’s is­land of Hokkaido.

Ja­panese For­eign Min­is­ter Fu­mio Kishida said he told U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son the sec­ond mis­sile test greatly in­creased the threat from Py­ongyang. He said the two sides agreed to con­sider all means nec­es­sary to ex­ert the ut­most pres­sure on North Korea. They re­it­er­ated calls for new sanc­tions and to work closely to­gether with South Korea, along with ef­forts by China and Rus­sia.

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.

Pres­i­dent Trump con­demned the mis­sile test as a threat to the world and re­jected Py­ongyang’s claim that nu­clear weapons en­sure its se­cu­rity.

“In re­al­ity, they have the op­po­site ef­fect,” he said in a state­ment.

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.

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

China, mean­while, urged its ally North Korea to abide by U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions and halt any moves that could es­ca­late ten­sions on the Korean Penin­sula.

In ad­di­tion, the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil will likely con­vene an emer­gency meet­ing early next week to dis­cuss pos­si­ble coun­ter­mea­sures, the South Korean news agency Yony­hap re­ported Sat­ur­day, quot­ing a gov­ern­ment source.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un re­port­edly 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.

JON CHOL JIN, AP

Peo­ple in Py­ongyang, North Korea, watch a news broad­cast of a mis­sile test.

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