North Korea missiles 'can hit most of the United States', intelligence officials warn

Anthony Pearce
North Korean top leader Kim Jong Un has called the missile launch a “stern warning” to the US.

North Korea‘s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) can reach most of the United States mainland, intelligence officials have said in a stark warning.

The country has accelerated its missile development programme since Kim Jong-un took power in 2011, recently testing long-range missiles, that it says are capable of reaching the West.

The US military is also monitoring “highly unusual and unprecedented levels” of activity by the North Korean submarine force.

Reports emerged today of three successful tests of submarine-launched ballistic missiles at the Sinpo Naval Shipyard in July alone.

“Achieving a successful cold-launch ejection test, even from land-based tubes, is a critical step forward in making an operational missile”, said Lance Gatling, a defence analyst and president of Tokyo-based Nexial Research Inc.

North Korea said it conducted another successful test of an ICBM on Friday.

The launch was supervised by Kim Jong Un, who called it a “stern warning” to the United States, according to state-run news in the secretive country.

Accompanied by South Korean and Japanese fighters, the US sent B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula last weekend in a symbolic response to the test.

Donald Trump said that he would “handle North Korea.”

“We’re going to be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything,” he said.


Following the missile tests, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said the “the time for talk is over.”

North Korea “is already subject to numerous Security Council resolutions that they violate with impunity,” she said, indicating that she believes UN diplomacy was not enough.

However, some analysis has suggested the missile launch on Friday was not a complete success.

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Experts told the New York Times that the mock warhead on the missile shattered into pieces during its re-entry to earth, representing a “significant, but not decisive, setback”.

Two US intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, also told Reuters that Kim wants to develop a nuclear-capable ICBM to deter any attack on his country, but does not intend to attack the US.

However, in March North Korea threatened to turn Washington and Seoul into “flames and ashes”, warning of a “pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice”.

“The specifics of our assessment are classified for reasons I hope you understand,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told a news briefing, acknowledging only that the missile could fly at least 5,500 km (3,420 miles), the minimum range for what the Pentagon classifies as an ICBM.

 

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