North Korea’s recent ICBM launch showcases significant advancements in its missile program, signaling increased capabilities and global concerns.
North Korea has reportedly launched a potential intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Monday morning, demonstrating the increasing reliability of its controversial weapons program. According to the Japanese Defense Ministry’s initial assessment, the missile exhibited the range to reach anywhere in the United States.
Shingo Miyake, Japan’s parliamentary vice-minister of defense, informed reporters in Tokyo that the ICBM could travel over 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), bringing the entire US territory within its range. The missile was reported to have flown on a highly lofted trajectory for about 73 minutes, reaching an altitude of 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) and a distance of approximately 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) before descending into the sea west of Hokkaido, Japan’s northern island.
Experts suggest that for the missile to strike the United States, it would need a flatter trajectory, an ability Pyongyang has yet to demonstrate. Joseph Dempsey, research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, stated that while lofted tests can validate engine performance, they don’t replicate the challenges of a normal ICBM trajectory, such as warhead survival during reentry or accuracy over long distances.
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Jeffrey Lewis, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, believes Monday’s test likely involved the third launch of the Hwasong-18 missile, a powerful solid-fueled ICBM. He noted that if this was indeed the third successful flight test in a row, it would indicate a reliable record for the North Korean missile program.
The July ICBM launch saw the missile airborne for 74 minutes, a slight advancement from earlier tests. North Korea’s missile program progress from the liquid-fueled Hwasong-17 to the more advanced, solid-fueled Hwasong-18 suggests significant advancements, allowing for quicker long-range nuclear strikes.
Following the latest test, North Korea conducted another ballistic missile launch within 24 hours. A short-range ballistic missile was fired towards the east coast of the Korean Peninsula on Sunday night, flying about 570 kilometers before landing in the water.
In response to these events, North Korean state media KCNA released a statement condemning the “reckless military provocations” by the US and South Korea, referring to recent military developments and exercises. North Korea’s increasing testing and rhetoric might be inadvertently fostering greater trilateral cooperation among the US, Japan, and South Korea, including improved missile tracking and coordination, according to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.