Tuesday, 4 July 2017

North Korea claims first intercontinental ballistic missile launch

North Korea claims to have successfully test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The latest in a series of launches appeared to be the secretive state's longest-range ballistic missile launch to date - and took place just hours before America's Independence Day celebrations.

A US weapons analyst said the missile was capable of reaching Alaska, as US President Donald Trump urged China to "end this nonsense once and for all".

In January, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un boasted the country was in the final stages of preparing to test launch its first ICBM - a further step towards his declared goal of a nuclear weapons system capable of hitting the US mainland.

"It won't happen," Mr Trump vowed at the time.

If Tuesday's test is confirmed as an ICBM launch, it would be considered a game-changer by countries looking to check North Korea's attempts to build a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the United States.

Mr Kim ordered and supervised the "landmark" Hwasong-14 missile launch from Pyongyang's North Phyongan province, state TV said.

A female presenter proclaimed the North "a strong nuclear power state" which had "a very powerful ICBM that can strike any place in the world".

North Korea said the missile reached an altitude of 2,802km (1,740 miles) and flew 933km (580 miles) for about 40 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan in the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Japan's data seemed to back up these claims, with the defence ministry claiming the altitude "greatly exceeded" 2,500km.

However, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said: "We assume it a medium long-range ballistic missile. But we still plan to devise necessary measures assuming it may have been an ICBM.

"If it is ICBM, we will need to come up with the corresponding measures."

He added Seoul would continue to "resolutely deal with North Korean provocations in close co-operation with the international community while maintaining a strong defence with the (South) Korea-US joint forces, based on the strong Korea-US alliance".
Russia also disputed the North Korean figures and suggested the missile reached an altitude of 535km and flew only 510km.

President Trump responded on Twitter: "North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea...

"...and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"

He also called for China - which urged calm and restraint following the launch - and Russia to take more "constructive measures" to address the issue.

David Wright, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said if it was fired at a "standard trajectory" it could hit a maximum range of roughly 6,700km (4,160 miles).

"That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska," he wrote on the organisation's allthingsnuclear blog.

Earlier this week, North Korea was a key topic in phone calls between Mr Trump and the leaders of China and Japan - and will be discussed at this weekend's G20 summit in Hamburg.

SKY      News.