North Korea said it successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Wednesday in a “breakthrough” that puts the U.S. mainland within the range of its nuclear weapons whose warheads could withstand re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.
The missile test came a week after U.S. President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a U.S. list of countries it says support terrorism, allowing it to impose more sanctions.
North Korea, which also conducted its largest nuclear test in September, has tested dozens of ballistic missiles under its leader, Kim Jong Un, in defiance of international sanctions.
The latest was the highest and longest any North Korean missile had flown, landing in the sea near Japan. North Korea said the new missile reached an altitude of about 4,475 km — more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station — and flew 950 km during its 53-minute flight.
The new Hwasong-15, named after planet Mars, was a more advanced version of an ICBM tested twice in July, North Korea said. It was designed to carry a “super-large heavy warhead.” Based on its trajectory and distance, the missile would have a range of over 13,000 km, more than enough to reach Washington D.C. and the rest of the U.S., the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists said.
However, it was unclear how heavy a payload the missile was carrying, and it was uncertain if it could carry a large nuclear warhead that far, the non-profit science advocacy group added.