North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday the second flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile demonstrated his country can hit the U.S. mainland. Hours after the launch, analysts were concluding that a wide swath of the United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now in range of North Korean weapons.
The Korean Central News Agency said that Kim expressed “great satisfaction” after the Hwasong-14 missile reached a maximum height of 3,725 kilometers (2,314 miles) and traveled 998 kilometers (620 miles) before accurately landing in waters off Japan. The agency said that the test was aimed at confirming the maximum range and other technical aspects of the missile it says was capable of delivering a “large-sized, heavy nuclear warhead.’’
Analysts had estimated that the North’s first ICBM launch July 4 could have reached Alaska, and said that the latest missile appeared to extend that range significantly.
The KCNA quoted Kim as saying that the launch reaffirmed the reliability of the country’s ICBM system and an ability to fire at “random regions and locations at random times’’ with the entire U.S. mainland now within range. The agency said that the test confirmed important features of the missile system, such as the proper separation of the warhead and controlling its movement and detonation after atmospheric re-entry.
Kim said the launch sent a “serious warning’’ to the United States, which has been “meaninglessly blowing its trumpet’’ with threats of war and stronger sanctions, the KCNA said.
On the streets of Pyongyang, North Koreans welcomed the news of their country’s latest missile test while state media broadcast images of a projectile launched into the night sky. Kim Jong Un was seen in the company of military commanders near a mobile missile launcher.
The North Korean flight data was similar to assessments by the United States, South Korea and Japan.
David Wright, a physicist and co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that if reports of the missile’s maximum altitude and flight time are correct, it would have a theoretical range of at least 10,400 kilometers (about 6,500 miles). That means it could have reached Los Angeles, Denver or Chicago, depending on variables such as the size and weight of the warhead that would be carried atop such a missile in an actual attack.