North Korea Test-Fires ICBM That Can Strike the Entire Continental US, Europe and Australia
North Korea test-fired an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) at approximately 3 am local time from a launch site just north of the capital Pyongyang. It flew 50 minutes on a lofted trajectory to 4500 kilometers above the earth and landed 1000 kilometers away in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone. This is significantly higher in altitude than the successful Hwasong-14 ICBM test in July at 2802 kilometers. Estimates of range vary, but one credible source puts the range at over 13000 kilometers on a normal trajectory placing the entire Continental US, Europe and Australia in range. The likely Hwasong-14 ICBM appears to have been tested under operational conditions as a warning to the US, and comes on the heels of a South Korean assessment that the North will likely field an operational and effective nuclear capability within the next year. The South Koreans also assessed that the North may have perfected its thermonuclear device in its last test and may not need to conduct further nuclear tests. It is unclear what the weight of the payload was, or if it survived re-entry. North Korea typically test-fires two Ballistic Missiles in the final quarter of the year and could conduct another launch before the new year.