It’s an incontrovertible fact, North Korea will not desist on its path to acquire nuclear arsenal despite furore the ambition has generated as the seclusive nation claimed that the rocket it test-fired Wednesday is a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can strike anywhere on the United States mainland.
According to reports on state TV, the regime said it had successfully tested a Hwasong-15, which appears to be an advanced version of ICBMs it launched in July. The claim has not been verified by experts.
Though North Korea is yet to prove it has the capability to marry a miniaturized nuclear warhead with a long-range missile and send it at a trajectory that would put US cities in its sights but at the rate Pyongyang is going, that will be sooner.
The late-night launch, which triggered a South Korean test-launch in response, reignited tensions in the region after a lull of more than two months.
It was North Korea’s 20th launch of a ballistic missile this year, and possibly its third successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile following two launches in July.
The Pentagon issued a statement saying that the weapon tested was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Initial reports from Seoul suggested that it came from a mobile launcher and was fired at about 3am local time.
The missile was reported to have flown for 50 minutes on a very high trajectory, reaching 4,500 km above the earth (more than 10 times higher than the orbit of Nasa’s International Space Station) before coming down nearly 1,000 km from the launch site off the west coast of Japan. This makes the most powerful of the three ICBMs North Korea has tested so far.