North Korea test fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Tuesday and claimed it was now able to “strike any place in the world” in what could be a major turning point in the back-and-forth between it and the United States.
Experts in the U.S. conceded that the rogue nation likely had fired its first ICBM but downplayed the missile’s abilities, although they also suspected it could reach the entire state of Alaska, The Washington Post reported. It likely was a two-stage rocket, they said.
“Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.
The U.S. and South Korea responded by jointly conducting missile tests into South Korean waters.
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North Korean TV described the missile as “a very powerful ICBM that can strike any place in the world,” The Guardian reported. The same report said the missile traveled for 1,741 miles and flew 580 miles high. If true, the missile test would be the longest and highest conducted by the country.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally oversaw the test of the Hwasong-14 missile, North Korean TV reported. It was the country’s 11th missile test this year.
The Hwasong-14 might have a maximum range of 4,160 miles, David Wright, the co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote in a blog post.
“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,” Wright wrote.
Observers think the missile test is designed to coincide with the Fourth of July holiday and the upcoming G20 summit meeting in Hamburg.
“If tension only goes up … then sooner or later it will get out of control and the consequences would be disastrous,” said Liu Jieyi, China’s ambassador to the United States.
President Trump responded to the launch on Twitter by urging China to act and “end this nonsense once and for all.”
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