22 September 2019

North Korea says its ICBM can carry nuclear warhead; U.S. calls for global action: Page 3 of 3

LONG-RANGE MISSILE

The North's state media said the missile, Hwasong-14, flew 933 km (580 miles), reaching an altitude of 2,802 km (1,741 miles) in its 39 minutes of flight.

Some analysts said the flight details suggested the new missile had a range of more than 8,000 km (4,970 miles), which would put significant parts of the U.S. mainland in range, a major advance in the North's program.

The launch was both earlier and "far more successful than expected", said U.S.-based missile expert John Schilling, a contributor to the Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, 38 North.

It would now probably only be a year or two before a North Korean ICBM achieved "minimal operational capability," he added.

Experts say a reliable nuclear-tipped ICBM would require a small warhead to fit a long-range missile, technology to protect against intense heat as it re-enters the atmosphere, separate the warhead and guide it to its target.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who ordered Wednesday's drill, said, "The situation was no longer sufficient to respond to the North's provocation by making statements," according to his office.

Tuesday's missile test poses fresh challenges for Moon, who took office in May with a pledge to engage the North in dialogue while keeping up pressure and sanctions to impede its weapons programs.

His defense minister, Han Min-koo, told parliament on Wednesday there was a high possibility of a sixth nuclear test by the North, but there were no specific indications.[mr/reuters]

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