Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has announced it has successfully carried a test of nuclear-capable Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), strengthening the country’s missile program that has been a pain in the neck for the U.S.
A statement read on North Korea’s state news agency KCNA claims the country is now a full-fledged nuclear power, which possesses the most powerful inter-continental ballistic rocket capable of hitting any part of the world.
The statement further claims the weapon would enable the country to “put an end to the U.S. nuclear war threat and blackmail” and defend the Korean peninsula.
The KCNA report revealed the test was supervised by the country’s leader Kim Jong-un. The missile named Hwasong-14 was reported to have reached an altitude of 2,802km. The weapon flew for 39 minutes, hitting its target with high precision in the history of the country’s missile program.
South Korean and Japanese defense officials admitted the ICBM was launched from North Korea’s western region, at a site near Banghyon in Pyongan province. The projectile traveled for about 930 kilometres before falling into the Sea of Japan, they added.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga acknowledged the weapon tested had an unusual long flight time, indicating that it was different from previous weapons the North has tested.
“This launch of a ballistic missile can never be tolerated, and Japan strongly protested to North Korea and condemned it,” Suga told reporters.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the latest missile launch “clearly showed increasing threats” from Pyongyang.
“Once again, North Korea pushed ahead with a missile launch. That showed [Pyongyang] has ignored repeated warnings from the international community,” Abe told reporters.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his country’s military is still analyzing the test, adding that initial observation suggests the weapon was indeed ICBM.
Meanwhile, as the two Far Eastern allies of the U.S. have confirmed the weapon tested was ICBM, expressing worry, the U.S. said in a statement that the weapon was not a long range missile.
The U.S. military’s Pacific Command said North Korea had launched a land-based intermediate range ballistic missile, adding that the weapon poses no threat.
“The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) assessed that the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America,” it said in a statement.
Observers say North Korea deliberately tested the ICBM on July 4 as an Independence Day gift to the U.S. President Trump took to Twitter to attack North Korea, describing Kim Jong-un as useless. He also urged China and Japan to take immediate action to force North Korea to stop carrying out such tests.