North Korea says new missile puts US mainland in striking distance of...

North Korea says new missile puts US mainland in striking distance of nuclear bomb

By Loree Lewis   
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Inspects a newly built catfish farm in Sunchon, North Korea last November, shortly before the country launched an intercontinental ballistic missile. (Photo: KCNA)

WASHINGTON – North Korea said it has successfully tested a new missile that puts the entire U.S. mainland within reach of a “super-heavy nuclear warhead” capable of withstanding re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

North Korea test-fired the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), dubbed the Hwasong-15, from north of Pyongyang east into the Sea of Japan Tuesday. The missile reached an altitude of almost 2,500 miles and flew a distance of about 620 miles over 53 minutes.

“With this system, the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] has become possessed of another new-type inter-continental ballistic rocket weaponry system capable of carrying super-heavy nuclear warhead and attacking the whole mainland of the U.S.,” North Korean state media KCNA reported.

The U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists said that had the missile been flown on a standard trajectory rather than a lofted trajectory, it would have been able to travel some 8,100 miles.

“Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, D.C., and in fact any part of the continental United States,” David Wright, co-director of the group, wrote in a blog post.

The missile range also puts major European cities, including London and Berlin, within striking distance.

However, Wright noted, the increased range indicates that the missile “carried a very light mock warhead,” which would mean that “it would be incapable of carrying a nuclear warhead to this long distance, since such a warhead would be much heavier.”

North Korea has said its weapons program is only aimed at the U.S. and meant to protect it from the U.S.’ “nuclear blackmail policy.”

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