North Korean Missile Confirmed As ICBM, US Responds With Missile Tests In South Korea

It's official. North Korea's latest rocket has been confirmed by US authorities as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), meaning that it has a range of at least 5500km. And the US has responded with its own missile test from an undisclosed location in South Korea.

Footage of the new Hwasong-14 North Korean missile that was launched on 4 July 2017, which the US has now confirmed was an ICBM (GIF made from KCNA video)

North Korean state media called its missiles "gift packages to the Yankees" and said that Kim Jong-un "stressed that the protracted showdown with the US imperialists has reached its final phase". State media said that it's time for North Korea "to demonstrate its mettle to the US, which is testing its will in defiance of its warning".

There were some questions yesterday about whether the new North Korean Hwasong-14 missile had been an ICBM, as American experts cautioned that the length of flight could have been "overstated". North Korea has a history of lying about tests in order to stoke fear. But the US State Department now believes that it was indeed an ICBM and has called the test a "new escalation".

"The United States strongly condemns North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement. "Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world."

Theoretically, the North Korean missile could hit Alaska, though there's no evidence so far that the country has the ability to miniaturise a nuclear weapon to place on any rocket. It's one thing to have both a nuke and a rocket that can hit a target. It's much harder to miniaturise a nuke so that it can fit on your rocket.

State media posted video of the missile launch to its English language YouTube page. The test also shows video from the perspective of the two-stage rocket, as seen in the GIF below.

Footage released by North Korea purporting to show its new two-stage rocket, the Hwasong-14, which is believed to be an ICBM (GIF made from KCNA video)

Yesterday's joint US-South Korea exercises conducted in the wake of the North Korean launch included "precision firing capability" tests using MGM-140 Army Tactical Missiles. The US military released photos such as the one below showing that it was conducting its own drills.

Missile tests being conducted by US and South Korean forces at an undisclosed location in South Korea on 5 July 2017 (US military handout)

North Korea sees American tests with the South as a direct threat to its sovereignty and is opposed to the THAAD missile system that has been deployed to the peninsula. The US has been testing its missile defence system, with a successful operation back in May. That test saw a dummy missile shot from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, which was successfully destroyed by a missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A more recent test was unsuccessful.

The UN will hold an emergency meeting later today, which was called by Japan, South Korea and the US. Member nations will discuss North Korea's latest test and what should be done about them.

"Global action is required to stop a global threat," said Secretary of State Tillerson. "Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime."

"All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons," Tillerson continued. "We intend to bring North Korea's provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable."

In this photo provided by Eighth U.S. Army, South Korea's Hyunmoo Missile II, left, and US MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile, right, are fired into the east sea during the combined military exercise against North Korea at an undisclosed location in South Korea, Wednesday, 5 July 2017 (Eighth US Army via AP)

After news of the North Korean tests were first made public, President Trump tweeted about them, imploring China to get involved, despite the fact that he had said they weren't being helpful in earlier tweets.

And yet again last night the US president made it sound somewhat hopeless to work with China to curtail North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

President Trump leaves for Europe today to attend the G20 meetings of world leaders. The subject of North Korea's missile tests will no doubt come up, though the world is also watching to see how Trump interacts with Russian president Vladimir Putin when the two meet on Friday.

With any luck, the world will avoid war, with no less than complete nuclear engagement at stake.


Comments

    Ok, it's time for everyone to take a breath and put on their big boy pants, this isn't as bad as the US would have you believe, it's one rocket with dubious abilities. Although I will say that just because they may or may not have the ability to launch a Nuke, doesn't mean they couldn't send a dirty bomb over there. That aside though, they don't have an arsenal of these things and the US and NATO have plenty of means with which to bring them down mid-flight. Think about it though, North Korea isn't going to start a war, there is nothing to be gained from such a thing, Li'l Kim may just be as immature as the big orange manchild, but even he knows, that he can't win a war and he would lose his eternal playground if he did. So relax and ignore the US and it's massive money making war machine, they won't go against the UN this time. Or at least, Jesus Christ I hope not..! :)

      As far as I know North Korea has not invaded another country nor has it threatened to do so. Given the overt aggressive tendencies of the West if I was North Korea I'd be doing whatever I could to be able to withstand an invasion.

        That's all well and good, but Kim Jong-un is a despot and he, along with his cadre, need to be removed. A war would be an international disaster, so the economic restraints need to be tightened. I'm of the opinion that China and Russia need to stop trading with him and just back off, so those economic restraints have some teeth. Millions are suffering and no doubts millions have been tortured and killed. This can't be allowed to continue.

          And having overthrown it, North Korea will magically become a better place - in the same way that Afghanistan and Iraq are now better places with almost no suffering at all.

            North Korea is a missing part of Korea as a whole. I'm sure the south with take them back in with open arms.

      OK let's imagine I have a neighbor, let's call her Kim.
      Kim says she wants to nuke me.
      Kim has made nukes and is testing delivery systems.
      I call a neighborhood watch meeting and suggest that Kim is a problem.
      And *you* say don't be silly, Kim isn't going to use those nukes, that would be irrational!

        You seriously think that Kim Jong-un is going to launch an attack against any of its neighbours or the US? N Korea has no military allies and if you think Russia or China will come running to help in the fight you're deluded. If the idiot did attack well, anyone, he knows he could not win and he would be killed or held to account for the way he has treated his people. I seriously doubt he is truly suicidal. So equating him to a noisy or annoying neighbour in your street is just silly.

          I have no idea why you think he's rational.

          An extremist talks about how marvelous martyrdom is, and then everyone acts surprised when he kills a bunch of innocents.

          Each time you ignore an extremist who says *exactly* what they intend to do, some of their victims' blood is transferred to your hands.

    "Undisclosed location"

    inb4 amateur mathemagician figures it out.

    Two men waving their tiny dicks around to try and look big to everyone. Thats trump and Kim.

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