North Korean missile can carry 'heavy nuclear warhead'

Otis Hoffman
May 16, 2017

On Monday, Pyongyang made the extraordinary claim that its latest test proved the country had a rocket capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead and that the United States mainland and its military base on the Pacific island of Guam were now within its "sighting range for strike".

Leader Kim Jong-Un personally oversaw the test on Sunday, the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said, and pictures by state media showed him gazing at the missile in a hangar before the launch.

Some outside analysts believe the Hwasong-12 missile, if proven in further tests, could help North Korea achieve its goal of developing missiles with nuclear warheads capable of reaching the USA mainland. North Korea's push to boost its weapons programme also makes it one of the Trump administration's most urgent foreign policy worries.

KCNA said the missile, named Hwasong-12, flew 787 kilometers (489 miles) and soared to an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometers along its planned flight trajectory. It said the missile fell into the Japan Sea after flying more than 700 kilometers.

This range is considerably longer than the estimated range of the Musudan missile, which showed a range of about 3,000 km in a test previous year.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday that the U.S. and its global partners will "tighten the screws" on the North Korean regime. He said Moon told officials that dialogue would be possible only if "North Korea changes its attitude".

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"With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil. the president can not imagine that Russia is pleased", the statement said.

"It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that might enable them to reliably strike the US base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)", Schilling wrote.

The pride in North Korea contrasts with concern in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, which condemned Sunday's launch and called it a serious violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibiting North Korea from conducting long-range missile tests.

In a unanimous statement backed by China, the council stressed the importance of North Korea "immediately showing honest commitment to denuclearisation through concrete action".

"More importantly", he added, it "may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)". It said that with this missile, "the US mainland and Pacific operation region are in the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea's] sighting range for strike".

Moon, South Korea's first liberal leader in almost a decade, said as he took his oath of office last week that he'd be willing to visit North Korea if the circumstances were right.

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There's also a political victory for North Korea.

While Trump has said he'd be "honored" to talk Kim under favorable conditions, Haley seemed to rule out the possibility.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the launch as "counterproductive, damaging, dangerous".

The United States called for tougher sanctions against the North, with the White House saying it "has been a flagrant menace for far too long".

"There are no excuses that justify N. Korea's actions", Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted.

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