TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – North Korea said it had successfully tested a powerful new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that put all of the US mainland within range, declaring it had achieved its long-held goal of becoming a nuclear power.
Wednesday’s missile test, North Korea’s first since mid-September, came a week after US President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a US list of countries it says support terrorism, allowing it to impose more sanctions.
North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under its leader, Kim Jong Un, in defiance of international sanctions. In September, it conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test.
North Korea said the new powerful missile reached an altitude of around 4,475 km (2,780 miles) – more than 10 times the height of the international space station – and flew 950 km (600 miles) during its 53 minute flight.
“After watching the successful launch of the new type ICBM Hwasong-15, Kim Jong Un declared with pride that now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power,” according to a statement read by a television presenter, Reuters reported.
In the statement, North Korea described itself as a “responsible nuclear power”, saying its strategic weapons were developed to defend itself from “the US imperialists’ nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat”.
US, Japanese and South Korean officials all agreed the missile, which landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, was likely an ICBM. It did not pose a threat to the United States, its territories or allies, the Pentagon said.
“It went higher frankly than any previous shot they’ve taken, a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world, basically,” US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the White House.
Washington has said repeatedly that all options, including military ones, are on the table in dealing with North Korea.
“Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.
The UN Security Council was scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss the launch, which Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned.
“This is a clear violation of Security Council resolutions and shows complete disregard for the united view of the international community,” his spokesman said in a statement.
The new Hwasong-15, named after the planet Mars, was a more advanced version of the Hwasong-14 ICBM tested twice in July, North Korea said. It was designed to carry a “super-large heavy warhead” and had much greater advantages in its tactical and technological specifications than its predecessor.
Based on its trajectory and distance, the missile would have a range of more than 13,000 km (8,100 miles) – more than enough to reach Washington D.C., the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists said.