North Korea claims to have successfully tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The missile — tested Tuesday morning — reportedly reached an altitude of over 1700 miles and a distance of almost 580 miles before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.
This missile test marks the Hermit Kingdom’s 12th this year and — if reports are true — its most successful. While there is ample proof that North Korea did test a missile, details are difficult to confirm since North Korea is easily the most secretive of nations. And since Pyongyang is know for dishonest reporting and Kim Jong Un — the supreme dictator of the communist nation — is known for dramatic exaggeration, any report of the details of the test coming out of North Korea have to be taken with a grain of salt.
What is known for sure is that the missile was launched on an extremely steep trajectory. This means that the distance of nearly 580 miles could easily be multiplied several times over by launching a missile at a lower angle. Such a missile launch could allow Pyongyang to strike targets up to 5,000 miles away. While that certainly rules out Europe and the mainland of the United States, it would allow a missile strike to reach as far away as most of Russia, parts of the Middle East, and Alaska.
That estimation is not based merely on North Korea’s braggadocio reports. In an official statement, the country's state media said, “The test launch was conducted at the sharpest angle possible and did not have any negative effect on neighboring countries.” This is confirmed by Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University's Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul. “It appears the test was successful. If launched on a standard angle, the missile could have a range of more than 8,000 km,” he said, adding, “But we have to see more details of the new missile to determine if North Korea has acquired ICBM technology.”
Washington says this test proves only that North Korea has intermediate range capabilities — which was already known. But, even with that assessment, this certainly puts Pyongyang closer to the stated goal of being able to launch a missile “at the United States” or “anywhere in the world.”
And while it is unlikely that Kim Jong Un’s “worker’s paradise” has a nuclear warhead small enough to attach to the nose of such a missile, two things are certain: They are working on it and they are determined. Not very long ago, Tuesday’s missile test would have been out of their reach. As MSN reported:
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of the British Armed Forces Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Regiment, said that "in capability of missile terms and delivery, it is a major step up and they seem to be making progress week-on-week."
He added, however, that "actually marrying the warhead to the missile is probably the biggest challenge, which they appear not to have progressed on." North Korea has a reliable arsenal of shorter-range missiles and is thought to have a small arsenal of atomic bombs, but is still trying to perfect its longer-range missiles.
After the missile test, President Trump took to his favorite communication platform to fire off a series of tweets, writing, “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” and “Hard to believe South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
China is well positioned to “end this nonsense,” yet has not done so. After all, North Korea would not amount to much without Chinese assistance. A “Backgrounder” on “The China–North Korea Relationship” that was published by the globalist-minded Council on Foreign Relations and last updated on April 26, 2017 acknowledges: “China is North Korea’s most important ally, biggest trading partner, and main source of food and energy. It has helped sustain Kim Jong-un’s regime, and has historically opposed harsh international sanctions on North Korea in the hope of avoiding regime collapse and a refugee influx across their 870-mile border.”
Trump’s tweets on North Korea’s latest missile test seem to show that he was incorrect when he tweeted earlier this year that “It won’t happen.” The earlier tweet was in response to North Korea’s boast that it was close to the missile test it seems to have pulled off Tuesday.
North Korean government photo purportedly showing launch of Hwasong-14 ICBM, July 4, 2017: Korea News Service via AP