Mmegi Online :: North Korea says new missile puts all of US in striking range
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Last Updated
Friday 16 November 2018, 11:44 am.
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North Korea says new missile puts all of US in striking range

North Korea says it has successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach the whole of continental United States.
By BBC.COM Wed 29 Nov 2017, 09:58 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: North Korea says new missile puts all of US in striking range








State television said Pyongyang had achieved its mission of becoming a nuclear state.

The Hwasong-15 missile, described as its "most powerful", was launched in darkness early on Wednesday.

It landed in Japanese waters but flew higher than any other missile the North had previously tested.

The test, which defied international sanctions imposed over the North's weapons programme, drew swift international condemnation, with the UN Security Council due to convene an emergency session.

South Korea responded by carrying out live-fire exercises, launching one of its own ballistic missiles.

North Korea says it has successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach the whole of continental United States.

State television said Pyongyang had achieved its mission of becoming a nuclear state.

The Hwasong-15 missile, described as its "most powerful", was launched in darkness early on Wednesday.

It landed in Japanese waters but flew higher than any other missile the North had previously tested.

The test, which defied international sanctions imposed over the North's weapons programme, drew swift international condemnation, with the UN Security Council due to convene an emergency session.

South Korea responded by carrying out live-fire exercises, launching one of its own ballistic missiles.

Could its missile really reach the US?

An analysis by the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists concludes that the missile could have travelled more than 13,000km on a standard trajectory, thus reaching "any part of the continental United States".

But it seems likely, the analysis adds, that the missile had a very light mock warhead, meaning it might lack the power to carry a nuclear payload, which is much heavier, over that distance.

North Korea however claims that the Hwasong-15 could reach mainland US carrying a "super-large heavy warhead".

Experts believe North Korea is still two to three years away from the ultimate goal of being able to deliver a nuclear warhead successfully using an ICBM.

This involves some of the most delicate, challenging technology.

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It is no good putting a nuclear weapon on an ICBM if the warhead disintegrates on its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

No-one really thinks North Korea has cracked this challenge yet.

And what of Pyongyang's "solemn declaration" that its missiles won't pose a threat to anyone "as long as the interests of the DPRK are not infringed upon"?

It might sound like an olive branch but it is likely to be greeted with more than a little scepticism. Its "interests", after all, include the development of the most destructive weapons known to mankind.

Most experts expect to see no let-up in Kim Jong-un's single-minded pursuit of a full nuclear capability.

And that almost certainly means more sanctions and pressure by those countries, led by the United States, who are determined to stop him.

How is the world reacting?

Prior to North Korea's statement, US defence secretary James Mattis said the missile launch had gone "higher, frankly, than any previous shots they have taken", and said North Korea posed a worldwide threat.

US President Donald Trump was briefed while the missile was still in the air, the White House said. Afterwards he said: "We will take care of it."

In other reaction:

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the launch had violated sanctions and shown "complete disregard for the united view of the international community"

China expressed "grave concern" and urged all parties to show caution

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch an intolerable, violent act

South Korea President Moon Jae-in accused the North of "reckless" behaviour but added that there was no choice but to keep applying sanctions

The launch is the latest in a series of weapons tests that have raised tensions to unprecedented levels, as North Korea ignores criticism and continues to develop its nuclear and missile programmes.

Pyongyang last launched a ballistic missile in September, the same month it conducted its sixth nuclear test.

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