North Korea said Wednesday it successfully launched a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking “the whole mainland of the U.S.,” claiming the isolated nation has achieved its goal of becoming a nuclear state.
The ICBM, called the Hwasong-15, appears to be the longest-range missile ever tested by the North. The missile flew about 600 miles in a high trajectory, but would have had a range of 8,100 miles had it flown in a flat trajectory, according to calculations by David Wright, an expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists. That would make it capable of reaching Washington, D.C.
North Korean news agency KCNA issued a report stating that the Hwasong-15 carried a “super-large heavy warhead.” The report said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched the launch and “declared with pride that now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force.”
State television also ran a special broadcast on the launch, which showed Kim personally signing the launch order.
The missile was launched from Sain Ni, near the capital of Pyongyang, and splashed down into the Sea of Japan, according to the Pentagon. The missile landed inside Japan’s Economic Exclusion Zone.
Following the test, President Trump told reporters that the U.S. “will take care of it. … It is a situation that we will handle.”
In a phone call after the launch, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “reaffirmed their commitment to combat the North Korean threat,” the White House said. Trump also spoke with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and “reaffirmed their strong condemnation of North Korea’s reckless campaign to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
The State Department announced it is launching an international effort to step up pressure on North Korea that could include interdicting ships carrying goods to and from that country.
Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the joint U.S.-Canada effort will include 16 countries. “We have always been very clear that we would be open to talks with North Korea. But North Korea is not showing it is willing to sit down and talk,” she said.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile was not a threat to North America or U.S. territories.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the missile “went higher, frankly, than any previous shots they have taken.”
It is not clear whether North Korea has mastered the technology, however, that would allow it to place a miniaturized nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Mattis said the latest test “endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States.”
South Korea’s military responded by conducting its own shorter-range missile tests to mimic striking the North Korea launch site, the South Korean Yonhap news agency reported.
“We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation,” Col. Robert Manning, the Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
The launch came one day after reports surfaced that the Japanese government had intercepted radio signals suggesting another launch appeared imminent.