Reports from Seoul, have indicated that North Korea launched their first successful intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday morning.
In a statement, the North’s Academy of Defense Science, which developed the missile, said it reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers and flew 933 kilometers before landing in the waters of Tokyo’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
The test of the Hwasong-14 missile was overseen by North Korean President, Kim Jong-Un, while a female announcer on Korean Central Television offered a play-by-play. The rocket was “a very powerful ICBM that can strike any place in the world,” the announcer said, and “a major breakthrough in the history of our republic.” Kim Jong-Un’s handwritten order to carry out the launch, along with pictures of him grinning in celebration, clenching his fist was also shown to viewers.
There are still doubts whether North Korea can reduce the size of a nuclear weapon sufficiently enough to fit it onto a missile cone. However, U.S. officials have cautioned that their non-nuclear missile could reach Alaska. David Wright, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote on the organization’s blog that the available figures implied the missile had “a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km on a standard trajectory.”
“That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska,” said Wright. President Trump responded to the launch on Twitter, before the official announcement, asking “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”
Later, he urged China to act to “end this nonsense once and for all.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe | Photo Credit Yoshitaka Sugawara, AP
Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, spoke to the media after details of the test were confirmed and told reporters the launch “clearly shows the threat has grown.” Abe also encouraged Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, to “take more constructive measures.”
Japan will join the U.S. and South Korea for a sideline meeting on the continued threat, during this week’s G20 summit.