North Korea on Tuesday launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, possibly the country’s longest-range test yet, United States government officials said, AFP reported. This comes just days after the United States imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea and re-designated the country as a state sponsor of terrorism.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “declared with pride that now we have finally realised the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force”, AFP quoted a state news agency KCNA report. “The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-15 type weaponry system is a rocket tipped with super-large heavy warhead which is capable of striking the whole mainland of the US,” KCNA said.
Pentagon officials said the missile was launched from Sain Ni in North Korea and travelled about 1,000 km before landing in the Sea of Japan within 370 nautical km of Japan’s coast. It flew for 53 minutes, Japan’s defence minister said.
Some experts said its “lofted trajectory” suggested an actual range of 13,000 kilometres, which would bring all cities in the continental United States within range.
United States President Donald Trump’s first response was guarded. “I will only tell you that we will take care of it,” Trump said at the White House. “It is a situation that we will handle.”
Trump added that there would be no change to his administration’s “maximum pressure campaign”, but US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson added that diplomatic options remained “viable and open.”
Trump has warned North Korea a number of times against boosting its nuclear weapons programme this year. In July, Pyongyang launched two long-range missiles that could potentially reach the US mainland. In September, it conducted its sixth and most powerful atomic bomb test yet.