North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile Friday that appears to have the range to hit major US cities, experts say, and prompted a fresh round of condemnation from the United States, China, Japan and South Korea.
A combination of US, South Korean and Japanese analyses of the launch from Mupyong-ni, near North Korea’s border with China, shows the missile flew about 45 minutes, going 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) high and for a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday the second flight test demonstrated his country can hit the US mainland, The Associated Press reported.
If the missile were fired on a flatter, standard trajectory, it would have major US cities such as Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago well within its range, with the possible ability to reach as far as New York and Boston, according to David Wright, a missile expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
However, early analysis of Friday’s test cannot determine how heavy a payload the missile was carrying in its warhead, Wright said. The heavier the payload, the shorter the range.
South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said they estimate the missile tested Friday is more advanced than one launched earlier this month based on the range it traveled. Experts had said that test showed Pyongyang had the ability to hit Alaska.
President Donald Trump condemned the missile launch and said the United States would act to ensure its security.
“Threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy and deprive its people,” Trump said in a written statement. “The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.”
Kim calls weapons program a ‘precious asset’
Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said Saturday that the latest missile launch was a Hwasong-14, the same missile tested earlier this month.
Friday’s test was designed to show the Hwasong-14’s maximum range with a “large-sized heavy nuclear warhead,” it said, adding that Washington should regard the launch as a “grave warning.”
North Korean state media was quick to tout the missile test as a success, with video and stills showing leader Kim overseeing the launch and celebrating with the troops involved.
North Koreans hailed the test-firing, the news agency said. Kim Yu Chol, a researcher at the State Academy of Sciences, called the achievement “another great victory which dealt a heavy blow to the US imperialists and its vassal forces.” Jo Son Hyang, a resident of Pyongyang’s Rangnang District, said the “future of the country is bright” now that it has a “powerful sword for keeping peace.”
Kim was quoted as saying “the whole US mainland” is now within North Korea’s reach. He called Pyongyang’s weapons program “a precious asset” that cannot be reversed or replaced, according to the agency.
On Sunday, North Korea said it will “respond…