International
0

N. Korea’s “New Missile” Has Unprecedented Range

North Korea said it needs atomic weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion and has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches
Tensions increase after North Korea’s long-range missile test.Tensions increase after North Korea’s long-range missile test.

North Korea said on Monday it had successfully tested a new type of rocket in its latest missile launch, as analysts said it showed an unprecedented range that brought US bases in the Pacific within reach.

Sunday’s launch was of a “new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket” named the Hwasong-12, AFP reported.

Leader Kim Jong-un personally oversaw the test, it said, and “hugged officials in the field of rocket research, saying that they worked hard to achieve a great thing”.

The isolated North is under multiple sets of United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs, which have triggered global alarm.

The missile was launched on an unusually high trajectory, with KCNA saying it flew to an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometers and travelled 787 kilometers before coming down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

That suggests a range of 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles) or more if flown for maximum distance, analysts said.

  Longest Range Missile Ever Tested

Aside from space launches, Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in the US told AFP, “This is the longest range missile North Korea has ever tested.”

The North says it needs atomic weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion and has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of last year.

Its goal is to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States, something US President Donald Trump has vowed “won’t happen”.

Tensions between the two reached a peak in recent weeks, with Washington saying military action was an option under consideration and Pyongyang issuing threats of its own, sending fears of conflict spiraling.

In April, the North put dozens of missiles on show at a giant military parade through the streets of Pyongyang, including one that appeared to be the type of device launched on Sunday.

The test “proved to the full all the technical specifications of the rocket” which was “capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead”, Korea Central News Agency said.

There are doubts whether Pyongyang can miniaturize a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it into a missile nose cone, and no evidence it has mastered the reentry technology needed to ensure it survives returning into Earth’s atmosphere.

But it described another launch earlier this year as a drill for an attack on US bases in Japan, which has long been within its range.

Schilling said the ability to hit Guam, 3,400 kilometers away, was not a game-changer, but that the new missile could be a step along the way.

“What would change the strategic balance is an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland,” he said.

“This is not that missile but it might be tested, demonstrating technologies and systems to be used in future ICBMs.”

The North could be testing ICBM subsystems in a “low-key manner” to “hedge” against the possibility of US military action, he added.

KCNA cited Kim as saying that the US strategy of what it called “militarily browbeating only weak countries and nations, which have no nukes” would never work on the North.

“If the US dares opt for a military provocation against the DPRK, we are ready to counter it,” it said.

 

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints

Financialtribune.com