North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, its first missile launch in two months. North Korea media claims the successfully tested missile topped with a “super-large heavy warhead,” is capable of striking the US mainland. The country’s state media made the announcement hours after leader Kim Jong Un ordered the 3 a.m. launch of the Hwasong-15 missile, which reached the highest altitude ever recorded by a North Korean missile.
North Korea news agencies called its new missile “the most powerful ICBM” and said it “meets the goal of the completion of the rocket weaponry system development. After the launch, Kim said North Korea had “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force.” North Korea has been working on its’ missile “re-entry” technology to one day have a warhead able to survive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. This ICBM would be able to hit any city within the U.S. if a warhead is able to survive re-entry.
The missile reached an altitude of 2,800 miles, before landing in the Sea of Japan. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said it was the furthest missile launch by North Korea to date and demonstrates that North Korea has the ability to hit “everywhere in the world.” Defense Secretary Mattis added “North Korea is continuing to build missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world as it continues to endanger world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry said “With each launch, North Korean officials are advancing their capability and they are making it clear that they can hold the entire U.S. at risk. They are steadily moving on and we’re not responding in kind.” He added, “It is incredibly serious partly because Kim Jong Un is very serious about what he says and what he says is that he wants to hold the entire United States at risk with his missiles, with nuclear weapons, and we have seen him actually deliver on what he says he wants to do.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and ambassadors from Japan and South Korea, requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. security council following the launch. Haley said if war comes as a result of further acts of “aggression” like the latest launch “make no mistake the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed”. Haley says the Trump administration warned North Korea that its future is in the hands of its leaders and the choice was theirs. With Tuesday’s launch, she said, Kim’s regime made a choice “and with this choice comes a critical choice for the rest of the world”. She called on all countries to cut all ties to North Korea.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that US President Trump was briefed on the launch while it was still in the air. President Trump told reporters that the missile launch “is a situation that we will handle,” and added the U.S. will “take care of it.” Trump later said in a tweet that he had spoken with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, about “the provocative actions of North Korea”, and promised: “Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!”
As nuclear tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continue to escalate, Hawaii is preparing to test its early warning system aimed at warning residents about a nuclear attack. The test, slated for Friday, will be the first time Hawaii has deployed the warning system since the 1990s, after the Cold War ended.