North Korea indicated the missile it launched over the weekend was a new type of “medium long-range” ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.
North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness as Pyongyang has threatened for decades to reduce Seoul to a “sea of fire.”
This missile launch may mark another big advance toward the North’s goal of fielding a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US mainland.
This launch tested a new type of missile in Pyongyang’s arsenal.
The test is also an immediate challenge to South Korea’s new leader, Moon Jae-in, a liberal elected last week who expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea.
Pyongyang’s aggressive push to boost its weapons program also makes it one of the Trump administration’s most urgent foreign policy worries, though Washington has struggled to settle on a policy.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency called the missile a “new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket,” and indicated the “Hwasong-12” was “capable of carrying a large, heavy nuclear warhead.”
The missile flew for half-an-hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan, the South Korean, Japanese and US militaries said.
The rocket, “newly designed in a Korean-style,” flew 787 kilometers (490 miles) and reached a maximum altitude of 2,111.5 kilometers (1,310 miles).
North Korea “verified the homing feature of the warhead under the worst re-entry situation and accurate performance of detonation system.”
North Korea is not thought to be able yet to make a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile.