Here is an interesting read from the Associated Press about what experts are saying about North Korea’s new ICBM:
North Korea released dozens of photos Thursday of the Hwasong-15, a new intercontinental ballistic missile it claims can reach any target in the continental United States. The photo dump, published in the paper and online editions of the ruling party’s official daily, is a goldmine for rocket experts trying to parse reality from bluster.
Their general conclusion is that it’s bigger, more advanced and comes with a domestically made mobile launcher that will make it harder than ever to pre-emptively destroy. But there’s a potentially major catch: it might not have the power to go much farther than the West Coast if it is loaded down with a real nuclear warhead, not a dummy like the one it carried in its test launch on Wednesday. [Associated Press]
You can read more at the link, but experts are skeptical that the North Koreans have miniaturized their nuclear warhead to a low enough weight to where this ICBM can deliver it to the US West Coast.
It looks like all areas of the continental United States are now at risk of being a target of a North Korean ICBM:
North Korea launched an apparent new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) early Wednesday that reached an altitude of about 4,500 kilometers and traveled 960 kilometers before falling into the East Sea inside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
The missile launch, which broke a 75-day lull in the North’s provocations, drew strong condemnation from South Korea as well as the international community. (……)
“The ICBM Hwasong-15 type weaponry system is an intercontinental ballistic rocket tipped with super-large heavy warhead which is capable of striking the entire mainland of the U.S. ,” the statement said.
It added the new system has much greater advantages in its tactical and technological characteristics than the Hwasong-14 missile tested in July.
The repressive state launched Hwasong-14s twice, July 4 and 28. The first one flew 933 kilometers in 39 minutes and reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers, while the second one flew 998 kilometers in 47 minutes after reaching an altitude of 3,724 kilometers. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link, but experts report this ICBM if fired at a nominal trajectory could range 13,000 kilometers. That would put all areas of the continental United States within range.
Here is how the Blue House responded to the launch:
Soon after the test, President Moon Jae-in presided over a National Security Council meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, during which he strongly denounced the North for its “military brinkmanship.”
“North Korea must stop making reckless choices that will only lead to its isolation and collapse,” Moon said, urging the Kim regime to come to the negotiation table.
“The government will never sit back and watch these provocations,” he said.
The Chinese have issued their usual statement about how concerned they are after the launch:
China voiced its strong objection and concerns over North Korea’s latest missile test Wednesday, joining South Korea, the United States and Japan in denouncing the North’s first weapons test in nearly 11 weeks.
“China expresses its grave concerns about and opposition to North Korea’s missile launch activities,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a press briefing.
Referring to the U.N.’s ban on North Korea’s ballistic missile activity, the spokesman said, “There are clear regulations on North Korean ballistic missile launches in United Nations Security Council resolutions.”
He also said, “China wants North Korea to stop any action that escalates tension on the Korean Peninsula.” He called on “other concerned countries” to act cautiously and maintain peace and security in the regional community. [Yonhap]
At this point I wonder if the ROK and the Chinese just change the date on their press releases after North Korean provocations because the statements are similar after every incident.
I guess we will see if North Korea has one more launch left in them this year:
Japan has detected the radio signals which indicate that North Korea may be preparing for a new missile launch, authorities announced on Tuesday.
The radio signals pointed to the North Korean Army’s possible launch of a ballistic missile “within the next few days”, reports Efe news.
However, the authorities said that at the moment no satellite has detected the deployment of any launching platform; hence these signals could be linked to the winter manoeuvers of the North Korean troops.
Meanwhile, a South Korean government source told Yonhap news agency on Tuesday that all the military intelligence agencies of Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have detected in recent days the radio signals such as those that had been detected before a launch. [Business Standard]
You can read the rest at the link.
I found it interesting in the below article how the North Koreans have pretty much told the Russians they plan to conduct a ICBM test in the near term. If so it will be additionally interesting to see what trajectory they use to test its full capability because if it lands too close to Hawaii or Alaska it could give the Trump administration the excuse it needs to conduct an attack to destroy their nuclear and missile programs:
The next rocket launch by North Korea could be another Hwasong-12 (HS-12), which is a mobile, solid-fueled, nuclear-capable medium-range ballistic missile, or the Hwasong-14 (HS-14), first tested in July, which is believed to be a two-staged version of the HS-12, giving it a longer and intercontinental range.
“I think they are not done with testing the HS-12 into the Pacific. They also have yet to start testing the HS-14 at anything like its full range,” said Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
“Once they have done that a couple of times, I would be concerned about the potential for an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific,” Pollack, also editor of the Nonproliferation Review, told VOA.
Russian media on Friday quoted a lawmaker in Moscow as saying North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile able to reach the West Coast of the United States.
The comment was made by Anton Morozov, a member of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee, who was among lawmakers who returned home Friday after a four-day visit to Pyongyang for “high-level meetings.”
“They are preparing for new tests of a long-range missile. They even gave us mathematical calculations that they believe prove that their missile can hit the West Coast of the United States,” Russian media quoted Morozov, a member of a right-wing populist party, as saying.
“As far as we understand, they intend to launch one more long-range missile in the near future,” Morozov explained. “And in general, their mood is rather belligerent.” [VOA News]
You can read more at the link.
Some how I doubt Kim Jong-un was impressed by this South Korean response to his recent missile test over Japan considering one missile did not even work:
South Korea’s military said Friday it has fired two ballistic missiles in a swift response to North Korea’s latest provocation.
The Army shot the Hyunmoo-2 missiles from an eastern site near the inter-Korean border just six minutes after the North’s missile firing from Pyongyang.
One “accurately hit” a simulated target in the East Sea about 250 kilometers away, a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) official told reporters in a background briefing.
It’s the same distance between the training area and the Sunan airfield in Pyongyang, where the missile was fired.
The other, however, fell into water “in the initial stage,” he added. Related authorities are analyzing the reason.
A defense ministry official pointed out the South’s response came while the North’s missile was still flying.
He stressed that the military was able to take such a quick measure as it detected signs of the secretive North preparing to fire the missile in advance. Related information was immediately reported to President Moon Jae-in who ordered the missile training. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link.
Here are the details about North Korea’s latest missile launch over Japan:
North Korea has fired a ballistic missile over Japan, in the face of fresh sanctions against the isolated nation, according to the Japanese and South Korean governments. The missile was launched from the capital Pyongyang on Thursday just days after the U.S. announced additional sanctions against North Korea for carrying out a successful test of a hydrogen bomb capable of being fitted to an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Prior to that nuclear test, North Korea last month launched a missile over Japan in an act condemned by the United Nations at the time as “not just a threat to the region but all U.N. member states,” The New York Times reported.
According to a statement from the South Korean military Thursday, the missile is thought to have reached an altitude of 770km (478 miles) and travelled around 3,700km, with the Japanese government reporting the missile landed 1,240 miles east of Hokkaido. The chief cabinet secretary to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Yoshihide Suga, told The New York Times the country “absolutely cannot accept the repeated outrageous provocative actions by North Korea.” [Newsweek]
You can read more at the link, but what is significant about this launch is that the North Koreans have confirmed that they can range Guam:
The intermediate-range missile fired from Pyongyang at 6:57 a.m. on Friday flew over the northern island of Hokkaido, reaching an altitude of 770 kilometers (478 miles) before landing in the Pacific Ocean. It traveled 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) — further than the 3,400 kilometers (2,100 miles) from Pyongyang to Guam, which North Korea has repeatedly threatened.
“The range of this test was significant since North Korea demonstrated that it could reach Guam with this missile, although the payload the missile was carrying is not known,” David Wright, a co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote in a blog post. [Bloomberg]
You can read more at the link.
This statement from North Korea’s ambassador is said in way in which the Kim regime wants to blame the US for them conducting an ICBM test:
North Korea has warned it is ready to send “more gift packages” to the US if it continues to put pressure on the regime.
Han Tae Song, ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the UN in Geneva, was addressing the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament two days after his country detonated its sixth and largest nuclear test.
“I am proud of saying that just two days ago on the 3rd of September, DPRK succcessfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test for intercontinental ballistic rocket under its plan for building a strategic nuclear force,” Mr Han said.
He told the Geneva forum: “The recent self-defence measures by my country, DPRK, are a gift package addressed to none other than the US.
“The US will receive more gift packages from my country as long as it relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK,” he added.
It came after South Korean media citing an unidentified intelligence source said North Korea had been observed moving what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) towards its west coast. [The Independent]
You can read more at the link.
The next logical thing for the Kim regime to test would be an ICBM over Japan to complete this current provocation period:
North Korea may fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on a standard trajectory toward the North Pacific around its key anniversary following its sixth nuclear test, South Korea’s spy agency said Monday.
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told lawmakers in a closed session that Pyongyang may lob the missile around the anniversary of the regime’s foundation slated for Saturday or the establishment of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea on Oct. 10.
North Korea fired ballistic missiles, including two ICBMs fired in July, at a lofted angle to prevent them from crossing over other countries including Japan. But Pyongyang lobbed a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan last week.
“There is a possibility that the North would fire an ICBM on a standard trajectory,” the NIS was quoted as saying by lawmakers. [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link.