Pyongyang has released video footage and images of Friday’s intercontinental ballistic missile test.
North Korean state media heralded Saturday the second test of the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile conducted hours earlier, asserting that the test demonstrated the country’s ability to launch a surprise attack on any U.S. target at any time. Experts assess that while North Korea often exaggerates, this claim appears to be quite true given the flight data.
The North Korean military first tested its ICBM July 4, shocking the world with abilities believed by some to be beyond it. Friday’s ICBM test, which was conducted at night, signaling an operational capability test rather than a propaganda stunt, was definitely even more alarming. The lofted missile flew for around 45 minutes, reaching a maximum altitude of approximately 3,800 kilometers (~2,350 mi) and covering a distance of roughly 1,000 kilometers. Expert observers estimate that if the missile were to be fired along a normal trajectory, the weapon would likely have a range between 10,400 kilometers and 11,000 kilometers (~ 6,800 mi) , the upper end of which would put most of the continental U.S. within striking distance.
Observers initially thought the maximum range of North Korea’s new ICBM stopped at Alaska, but it appears the Hwasong-14 is much more powerful than previously thought.
North Korean state media claims that the test confirmed “the reliability of the ICBM system” and sent “a grave warning to the U.S.” Pyongyang also hinted that the re-entry vehicle and warhead survived the intense flight, which was reportedly harsher than a normal ICBM flight. North Korea’s claims have yet to be independently verified by defense analysts, many of which have cast doubt over such claims.
The Pentagon assessed earlier this week that North Korea will have a reliable, nuclear-armed ICBM as early as next year, according to The Washington Post. It remains unclear whether or not the U.S. defense intelligence agencies will update their assessment in the wake of Friday’s test.
In response to Friday’s missile defense test, U.S. and South Korean forces staged a joint military drill, during which they fired off a salvo of missiles in a show of force to the North.
President Donald Trump condemned North Korea’s ICBM test as”reckless and dangerous,” asserting, “The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.” The U.S. military has been strengthening domestic missile defense systems to counter growing international threats, but despite recent successes, there is no such thing as an completely impenetrable missile shield.
The U.S. intends to ramp up pressure on the North Korean regime, but so far such tactics have failed to produce results. Time is running out, as North Korea is rapidly moving towards a reliable nuclear deterrence strategy.