North Korea Test-Fires ICBM That Could Strike Denver And Chicago

North Korea Test-Fires ICBM That Could Strike Denver And Chicago

As expected and forecast, North Korea has conducted a new Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) test just three weeks after its last test of a Hwasong-14 ICBM.

The unidentified ICBM (likely a Hwasong-14) was lofted to an altitude of about 3,000 kilometers, flew for 45 minutes and landed 1000 kilometers away in the Sea of Japan. The latest missile flew higher, further, and for longer than the one in July 3rd Hwasong-14 ICBM test. The July 3rd test-fire of a Hwasong-14 ICBM reached an altitude according to the Japanese Defense Ministry of more than 2500 kilometers (2802 kilometers according to North Korea) and traveled 930 kilometers in a 37-40-minute flight. The higher a missile can go, the greater the range. According to Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California, initial indications show the latest missile has a range of about 10,000 kilometers, enough to strike the West coast of the US, potentially Denver, and possibly Chicago. This test is the 14th carried out by North Korea this year and the latest to be conducted in defiance of a UN ban. The latest ICBM was launched at 23:41 North Korea time (15:41 GMT) from Jagang province in the north of the country where there has never been a previous launch.

A rocket is usually tested in flight ten or more times before considered ready for use. The Hwasong-14 ICBM is viewed as having poor accuracy at this stage and only capable of carrying a small nuclear payload off 500 kilograms. It is not clear at this stage if the North has perfected its re-entry vehicle to survive the return to earth and they have yet to test a thermonuclear device that could be miniaturized for the ICBM’s warhead. The North Korean Punggye-ri Nuclear Test facility remains at a high state of readiness and could test a nuclear or thermonuclear device with little or no warning. Furthermore, there are mixed reports that North Korea’s domestically produced, experimental Sinpo-class conventionally-powered ballistic missile submarine is at sea preparing for a test of its Pukkuksong-1 (KN-11), Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM).

The ICBM landed in the sea within Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone and the government convened its national security council. The US and South Korea are reviewing "military response options" after the latest North Korea ICBM test.

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