Analysts: N. Korea’s ICBM range has grown
Bulk of U.S. mainland could be at risk after missile test
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.
People in Pyongyang, North Korea, watch a news broadcast of a missile test.