North Korea claims it tested a previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday.
North Korea tested the Hwasong-15 ICBM before dawn, North Korean state media revealed in a special noon announcement. The new missile is believed to have a range of more than 8,100 miles, far greater than that of the Hwasong-14 ICBM the North tested twice successfully in July. The new missile could theoretically strike anywhere in the continental U.S., whereas its predecessor could only strike parts of the U.S. mainland.
Some observers suspected that the North merely tested a Hwasong-14 with a lighter warhead, but North Korean state media dispelled assertions of this nature, claiming that the rocket was tipped with a “super large and heavy warhead.” If the rogue regime is to be believed, it does appear to have tested a new ICBM, one with the ability to strike targets as far away as Trump Tower in New York, Washington, D.C., and even the so-called Winter White House in Mar-a-Lago.
The new numerical designation suggests that the North has made significant hardware changes, such as improved engine technology or additional stages.
Kim Jong Un, who personally ordered Wednesday’s test, “declared with pride” that North Korea has “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force.” After pursuing advanced ballistic missile capabilities and nuclear weapons for decades, North Korea seems to have developed a missile that can deliver a nuclear payload to targets across the U.S. The North already demonstrated that it possesses a staged thermonuclear warhead — a hydrogen bomb — to go on the business end of such a missile, but for a reliable nuclear deterrent, additional testing will be required.
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