Japan: N-Korea missile test shows potential ability to hit US

This is North Korea’s second major weapons test this month, showing its determination to perfect a weapons system aimed at the US mainland.

TOKYO, Japan — North Korea launched an ICBM in its second major weapons test this month that landed near Japanese waters on Friday, demonstrating the potential ability to launch nuclear strikes anywhere on the US mainland.

The North’s ongoing hot weapons tests are aimed at advancing its nuclear arsenal and winning major concessions in eventual diplomacy, and they come as China and Russia resist US efforts to tighten sanctions aimed at containing North Korea’s nuclear program.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said they spotted the ICBM launch from North Korea’s capital region around 10:15 a.m. and the weapon flew nationwide toward the North’s east coast. Japan said the ICBM appeared to be flying on a high trajectory and landed west of Hokkaido.

According to South Korean and Japanese estimates, the North Korean missile flew about 6,000 to 6,100 kilometers (3,600 to 3,790 mi) at a maximum altitude of 1,000 kilometers (620 mi).

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters the altitude suggested the missile was fired at a high angle. He said depending on the weight of a warhead to be placed on the missile, the weapon would have a range of more than 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), “in which case it could cover the entire mainland United States.”

Hamada called the launch “a reckless act that threatens Japan, as well as the region and the international community.” He said Japan will continue to work closely with the United States, South Korea and other countries to coordinate a joint response to the North Korean provocations.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff described the launch as a “grave provocation and serious threat” to undermine international and regional peace and security. South Korea remains ready to provide “an overwhelming response to any North Korean provocation” in close coordination with the United States.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, attending a regional summit in Bangkok, previously told reporters the missile is believed to have landed at sea in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone west of Hokkaido, Japan’s main North Island.

North Korea also launched an ICBM on November 3, but experts said the weapon failed to fly its intended flight and fell into the ocean after a phase separation. It was believed that this test involved a development ICBM called the Hwasong-17. North Korea has two other types of ICBMs — Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 — and their test launches in 2017 proved they could potentially reach parts of the US homeland.

The Hwasong-17 has a greater potential range than the others, and its massive size suggests it’s designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads to defeat missile defense systems. Some experts say the Nov. 3 test showed some technological advances in the development of the Hwasong-17, as the missile exploded shortly after launch at its earlier test in March.

South Korea’s presidential office said it called an emergency security meeting to discuss the North Korean launch.

North Korea has conducted many short-range missile tests and artillery displays this year but halted weapons launches for about a week before launching a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday.

Ahead of Thursday’s launch, Northern Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui threatened the US with “tougher” military responses to bolster its security commitments to its allies South Korea and Japan.

Choe was referring to President Joe Biden’s recent trilateral summit with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Cambodia. In their joint statement, the three leaders strongly condemned North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreed to work together to strengthen deterrence. Biden reiterated US commitments to defend South Korea and Japan with a full suite of capabilities, including their nuclear weapons.

Choe did not say what steps North Korea might take, but said that “the US will be aware that they are playing, which they will certainly regret.”

Pyongyang sees the US military presence in the region as evidence of its hostility towards North Korea. It has said its recent spate of weapon launches was its response to what it described as provocative military exercises between the United States and South Korea.

There have been concerns North Korea could conduct its first nuclear test in five years as the next major step in bolstering its military capabilities against the United States and its allies.

North Korea has faced several rounds of UN sanctions over its past nuclear and missile tests. But no new sanctions were imposed this year, despite carrying out dozens of launches of ballistic missiles banned by UN Security Council resolutions.

This is possible because China and Russia, two UN Council veto members, oppose new UN sanctions. Washington finds itself in strategic competition with Beijing and in a confrontation with Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/nation-world/north-korea-missile-test-ability-to-hit-us/507-b0041e82-aa65-4b4e-af26-e1392936d31e Japan: N-Korea missile test shows potential ability to hit US

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