North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday the second flight test this month of an intercontinental ballistic missile shows that his country can hit the U.S. mainland, a view shared by U.S. analysts who say a stretch from Los Angeles and Chicago now appears technically within range of the North’s weapons.
Kim, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), expressed “great satisfaction” after the Hwasong-14 missile reached a maximum height of 2,314 miles and flew 620 miles before 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,” according to the Associated Press.
Kim also noted that the rare night launch showed North Korea’s ability to mount a surprise attack. The KCNA quoted him as saying 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 reach.
The July 4 test indicated that Alaska was technically in range, but not the U.S. mainland.
A U.S. expert, David Wright, co-director and senior scientists for the Union of Concerned Scientists, writes Saturday that Friday’s launch sent the missile on a “very highly lofted trajectory” that narrowed its range, but that one flown on a standard trajectory would have a range of 6,500 miles.
A chart of U.S. cities “shows that Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago appear to be well within range of this missile, and that Boston and New York may be just within range,” he writes in his blog All Things Nuclear. “Washington, D.C., may be just out of range.”
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