On July 28, North Korea conducted its latest in a series of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests. Launched at 23:41 North Korean time, the missile launched from the Jagang province, which is located in the north of the nation. The missile has been reported to have reached an altitude of about 3,000 km, and landed in the sea of Japan’s exclusive economic zone. This is the fourteenth missile test carried out by North Korea in 2017; the tests are done in defiance of a UN ban. Furthermore, this missile test came three weeks after North Korea’s first ICBM test.
According to Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the missile flew for a period of forty five minutes, which is approximately six minutes longer than the ICBM tested on July 4th. The missile also achieved a height of about 200 km higher than the early July test.
According to nuclear nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis, should the numbers reported be correct, a North Korean ICBM now has a range of about 10,000 km, meaning it has the potential to reach the West Coast of the United States. This is different that the earlier test, which purportedly could reach Alaska.
Some experts believe that North Korea does not yet have the ability to properly create a warhead that will be small enough, and protected enough, to survive travel and accurately hit its target. Other experts recognize this but worry that at the current rate of innovation and technological advancement, it will only be a matter years until Pyongyang manages to develop an ICBM that will surpass these challenges and thus be able to strike the United States.
Despite this uncertainty, there was a rash of outrage expressed by the international community in response to the most recent test.
South Korean President Moon Jae-In convened an emergency security meeting, as did Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe is quoted as saying, “The threat to Japan’s security is grave and real.” Capt. Jeff Davis, who is a spokesperson for the Pentagon, stated, “We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.” These three nations have engaged in joint-training missions to demonstrate their cooperation and strength and are expected to increase pressure on North Korea.