North Korea says new ICBM puts U.S.
mainland within range of nuclear weapons
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[November 29, 2017]
By Christine Kim and Phil Stewart
SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea
said it successfully tested a powerful new intercontinental ballistic
missile (ICBM) on Wednesday that put the entire U.S. mainland within
range of its nuclear weapons.
North Korea's first missile test since mid-September 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
North Korea, which also conducted its sixth and 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.
Graphic: Nuclear North Korea http://tmsnrt.rs/2lE5yjF
North Korea said the new missile reached an altitude of about 4,475 km
(2,780 miles) - more than 10 times the height of the International Space
Station - and flew 950 km (590 miles) during its 53-minute flight.
"After watching the successful launch of the new type ICBM Hwasong-15,
Kim Jong Un declared with pride that now we have finally realized the
great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of
building a rocket power," according to a statement read by a television
North Korea described itself as a "responsible nuclear power", saying
its strategic weapons were developed to defend itself from "the U.S.
imperialists' nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat".
The U.N. Security Council was scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss
Many nuclear experts say the North has yet to prove it has mastered all
technical hurdles, including the ability to deliver a heavy nuclear
warhead reliably atop an ICBM, but it was likely that it soon would.
"We don't have to like it, but we're going to have to learn to live with
North Korea's ability to target the United States with nuclear weapons,"
said Jeffrey Lewis, head of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at
the Middlebury Institute of Strategic Studies.
U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials all agreed the missile, which
landed within Japan's exclusive economic zone, was likely an ICBM. The
test did not pose a threat to the United States, its territories or
allies, the Pentagon said.
“It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken, a
research and development effort on their part to continue building
ballistic missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world,
basically," U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the
Trump spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South
Korean President Moon Jae-In, with all three reaffirming their
commitment to combat the North Korean threat.
"It is a situation that we will handle," Trump told reporters.
Trump, who was briefed on the missile while it was in flight, said it
did not change his administration's approach to North Korea, which has
included new curbs to hurt trade between China and North Korea.
Abe and Moon, in a separate telephone call, said they would "no longer
tolerate" North Korea's increasing threats and would tighten sanctions,
the South's presidential office said.
Washington has said repeatedly that all options, including military
ones, are on the table in dealing with North Korea while stressing its
desire for a peaceful solution.
"Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now," U.S. Secretary of
State Rex Tillerson said.
Other than enforcing existing U.N. sanctions, "the international
community must take additional measures to enhance maritime security,
including the right to interdict maritime traffic" traveling to North
Korea, Tillerson said in a statement.
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A woman walks past a street monitor showing North Korea's leader Kim
Jong Un in a news report about North Korea's missile launch, in
Tokyo, Japan, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the
"This is a clear violation of Security Council resolutions and shows
complete disregard for the united view of the international
community," his spokesman said in a statement.
China, North Korea's lone major ally, expressed "grave concern" at
the test, while calling for all sides to act cautiously.
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also urged all sides to
stay calm, saying this was necessary to avoid a worst-case scenario
on the Korean peninsula.
U.S. EAST COAST IN RANGE?
The new Hwasong-15, named after the 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 more than 13,000 km (8,100 miles) - more than enough to reach
Washington D.C. and the rest of the United States, 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 nonprofit science advocacy group added.
Minutes after the North fired the missile, South Korea's military
said it conducted a missile-firing test in response.
Moon said the launch had been anticipated. There was no choice but
for countries to keep applying pressure, he added.
"The situation could get out of control if North Korea perfects its
ICBM technology," Moon said after a national security council
"North Korea shouldn't miscalculate the situation and threaten South
Korea with a nuclear weapon, which could elicit a possible
pre-emptive strike by the United States."
The test comes less than three months before South Korea hosts the
Winter Olympics at a resort just 80 km (50 miles) from the heavily
fortified border with the North.
U.S. stocks briefly pared gains on the news but the S&P 500 index
closed up almost 1 percent and Asian markets largely shrugged off
North Korea has said its weapons programs are a necessary defense
against U.S. plans to invade. The United States, which has 28,500
troops in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, denies
any such intention.
Last week, North Korea denounced Trump's decision to relist it as a
state sponsor of terrorism, calling it a "serious provocation and
Trump has traded insults and threats with Kim and warned in
September that the United States would have no choice but to
"totally destroy" North Korea if forced to defend itself or its
(Reporting by Christine Kim and Soyoung Kim in Seoul, Linda Sieg,
William Mallard, Timothy Kelly in Tokyo, Mark Hosenball, John
Walcott, Steve Holland and Tim Ahmann in Washington, Michelle
Nichols at the United Nations, Michael Martina in Beijing and Dmitry
Solovyov in Moscow; Writing by Yara Bayoumy, David Brunnstrom and
Lincoln Feast; Editing by Michael Perry and Nick Macfie)
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