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US Warns Of War As North Korea Shows Off Its Monster New Missile

North Korea said the new missile reached an altitude of about 4,475 km (2,780 miles) - more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station - and flew 950 km (590 miles) during its 53-minute flight. REUTERS/KCNANorth Korea said the new missile reached an altitude of about 4,475 km (2,780 miles) - more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station - and flew 950 km (590 miles) during its 53-minute flight. REUTERS/KCNA

North Korea successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday, demonstrating an ability to strike anywhere in the U.S.

The Hwasong-15 ICBM is much more powerful than the ICBM tested twice successfully in July. Some leading experts estimate the range could be more than 8,000 miles, putting all of the continental U.S. within striking distance. The range will, however, vary greatly depending on the weight of the warhead.

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The weapon is carried on a massive indigenously-produced nine-axle launch vehicle, a breakthrough for a country that has in the past relied on imported trucks. While it is clear that the trucks are variations of Chinese trucks, this could represent a leap forward for the country’s heavy launch vehicle development program.

Furthermore, the missile is big, much bigger than many experts expected. “I believe one of my professors would have referred to it as a big honking missile,” said Scott LaFoy, an imagery analyst for the specialist website NK News, told The Washington Post.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un is seen as the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15's test was successfully launched, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 30, 2017. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un is seen standing beside the newly-developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15 in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 30, 2017. REUTERS/KCNA

The first stage has two engines, and the second stage appears to be carrying much more fuel. “The combination of those two things means it really is a new, more capable missile,” David Wright, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists told The Post.

Additionally, the nosecone is blunted compared to the Hwasong-14, the ICBM North Korea tested this past summer. The new design could potentially help the North overcome some of the re-entry vehicle problems it has faced in the past by reducing the stress on the tip, increasing the survivability of the warhead.

And, to top it all off, there is evidence the missile uses a more advanced steering method that many suspected was beyond the North.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un declared Wednesday that it has completed its nuclear program (although continued testing is expected), asserting that its new ICBM can “reach all of the U.S. mainland.”

In response to North Korea’s latest act of defiance, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned that North Korea is pushing the world closer to war through its provocative actions. “We have never sought war with North Korea and still today we do not seek it,” she said at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting Wednesday, “If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed, and if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”

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Ryan Pickrell
the authorRyan Pickrell
Holds a PhD in International Relations, fluent in Mandarin Chinese, reports on China and the Asia Pacific.

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