- North Korea conducted an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, reaching a maximum altitude of 5,770 kilometers (3,585 miles)
- The launch was designed to verify the weapon’s reliability and the combat readiness of the country’s nuclear force
- The Hwasong-15 launch demonstrated the North’s powerful physical nuclear deterrent
- In response, the United States flew long-range supersonic bombers in a show of force
- South Korea and the U.S. plan to hold a table-top exercise this week to hone a joint response to a potential use of nuclear weapons by North Korea
North Korea’s ICBM Test
On Saturday, North Korea conducted an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, launching the missile at a high angle and reaching a maximum altitude of about 5,770 kilometers (3,585 miles). The missile flew a distance of about 990 kilometers (615 miles) for 67 minutes before accurately hitting a pre-set area in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said the launch was designed to verify the weapon’s reliability and the combat readiness of the country’s nuclear force. It was organized “suddenly” without prior notice at Kim Jong Un’s direct order.
The Hwasong-15 launch demonstrated the North’s powerful physical nuclear deterrent and its efforts to “turn its capacity of fatal nuclear counterattack on the hostile forces” into an extremely strong one that cannot be countered.
North Korea’s Plans for ICBMs
North Korea may seek to hold regular operational exercises involving its ICBMs. The North is pushing to build a solid-fueled ICBM, which would be more mobile and harder to detect before its launch.
An expert said North Korea has likely determined that the technical reliability of the country’s liquid propellant ICBM force has been sufficiently tested and evaluated to now allow for regular operational exercises of this kind.
North Korea appeared to have launched an upgraded version of the Hwasong-15 ICBM. The information provided by North Korea showed the missile will likely have a longer potential range than the standard Hwasong-15.
Response from the United States and Allies
In response to the launch, the United States flew long-range supersonic bombers in a show of force later Sunday for separate joint exercises with South Korean and Japanese warplanes.
North Korea is sensitive to the deployment of U.S. B-1B bombers, which are capable of carrying a huge payload of conventional weapons.
Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of Kim Jong Un, accused South Korea and the U.S. of “openly showing their dangerous greed and attempt to gain the military upper hand and predominant position in the Korean Peninsula”.
The U.S. National Security Council spokesperson said the U.S. will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and South Korea and Japan.
South Korea’s presidential National Security Council said it will seek to strengthen its “overwhelming response capacity” against potential North Korean aggression based on the military alliance with the United States.
The South Korean and U.S. militaries plan to hold a table-top exercise this week to hone a joint response to a potential use of nuclear weapons by North Korea.
The South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers agreed to boost a trilateral cooperation involving the United States and exchanged in-depth views on the issue of Japan’s colonial-era mobilization of forced Korean laborers.