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The White House on Thursday condemned North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile – one that traveled higher than any missile before and could reach any part of the United States – calling it a security violation of the region.  

‘The United States strongly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for its test of a long-range ballistic missile,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

President Joe Biden ‘s administration called on Kim Jong Un to ‘immediately cease’ such actions and vowed to support South Korea, Japan and its other Pacific allies.

‘The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions. The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and Republic of Korea and Japanese allies,’ Psaki said. 

The test, reportedly the country’s largest ever, saw the launch of a new, more dangerous type of missile, military officials in South Korea and Japan said, in the country’s first long-range weapons test since 2017. 

The move by the Kim Jong Un-led country comes as the US has been largely preoccupied with the escalating conflict in Ukraine, suggesting the country has taken advantage of the distraction to ramp up its missile testing – similar to recent actions by China and Iran.  

Japanese officials estimated the missile flew to a previously unseen altitude of 3,850 miles – 3,600 miles higher than the International Space Station – and to a distance of 684 miles, before it fell in Japanese waters near the northern island of Hokkaido early Thursday after flying for 71 minutes. 

The missile’s flight path was 1,000 miles higher and almost 20 minutes longer than the country’s previous ICBM test, the November 2020 launch of the the Hwasong-15, a missile that was capable of reaching any part of the continental United States. 

The Thursday missile’s altitude and steep trajectory suggests it is a ‘new type of ICBM,’ Japan’s Vice Defense Minister Makoto Oniki told reporters Thursday – one markedly more powerful than the Hwasong-15. 

The launch comes a little over a year after North Korea unveiled The Hwasong-17, its largest known ICBM, during a military parade in October 2020. 

Analysts have called the 330,000-lb behemoth – one of the largest ever seen – a ‘monster missile.’ 

It is believed the 'new' missile is the The Hwasong-17, pictured here being unveiled at a military parade in Pyongyang in October 2020, the country's largest and most destructive weapon

It is believed the 'new' missile is the The Hwasong-17, pictured here being unveiled at a military parade in Pyongyang in October 2020, the country's largest and most destructive weapon

It is believed the ‘new’ missile is the The Hwasong-17, pictured here being unveiled at a military parade in Pyongyang in October 2020, the country’s largest and most destructive weapon

Prior to the Thursday test, US and South Korea officials had warned that North Korea might test its new missile under the guise of a satellite launch. 

The test also marks an end to the country’s self-imposed moratorium on long-range testing reached during Donald Trump’s presidency, and comes as Western leaders gather in Brussels for a security summit.   

North Korea fired the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) toward the sea off its east coast early Thursday, militaries in South Korea and Japan said.  

According to South Korean military officials, it was launched from Pyongyang’s Sunan district, from a site previously connected with ICBM tests.   

‘This launch is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region,’ Psaki said Thursday. 

‘This action demonstrates that the DPRK continues to prioritize its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs over the well-being of its people.’  

North Korea has conducted its first full intercontinental ballistic missile launch since 2017

North Korea has conducted its first full intercontinental ballistic missile launch since 2017

North Korea has conducted its first full intercontinental ballistic missile launch since 2017 

The Hwasong-17: North Korea’s largest – and deadliest – ICBM

Potential altitude: 3,850 miles

Potential range: At least 8,100 miles 

Warhead: Up to four nuclear weapons 

Warhead weight: Up to 7,700 lbs.

Missile weight: Up to 330,000 lbs. 

Missile length: 85 feet 

Diameter: 9.5 feet 

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‘We urge all countries to hold the DPRK accountable for such violations and call on the DPRK to come to the table for serious negotiations,’ the White House spokesperson added, referring to the dictator-led country by its official acronym.  

Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister, condemned the launch as an ‘unacceptable act of violence’ against his country. 

According to the South Korean military the ICBM launch was immediately followed by the test firing of other ballistic and tactical missiles. 

The first full-capability launch of the nuclear-armed state’s largest missiles since 2017, represents a major escalation in the North’s development of weapons potentially able to deliver nuclear warheads anywhere in the United States.

The North’s return to major weapons tests also poses a new national security headache for President Biden as he responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and presents a challenge to South Korea’s incoming conservative administration.

President Joe Biden's White House condemned North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, calling it a security threat to region

President Joe Biden's White House condemned North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, calling it a security threat to region

President Joe Biden’s White House condemned North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, calling it a security threat to region

Japanese authorities said the launch appeared to be a ‘new type’ of intercontinental ballistic missile that flew for about 71 minutes to a range of 684 miles from its launch site.

It landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), 106 miles west of the northern prefecture of Aomori, at 06:44 GMT.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had detected the launch of an ‘unidentified projectile’ from North Korea, without elaborating.

It said the launch was assumed to be a long-range missile, possibly an ICBM fired on a ‘lofted’ trajectory high into space, Yonhap news agency reported. 

On March 16, North Korea launched a suspected missile that appeared to explode shortly after liftoff over Pyongyang, South Korea’s military said, amid reports that the nuclear-armed North was seeking to test-fire its largest missile yet.

Hwasong-14 - one of North Korea's most advanced ballistic missiles - being test fired in 2017

Hwasong-14 - one of North Korea's most advanced ballistic missiles - being test fired in 2017

Hwasong-14 – one of North Korea’s most advanced ballistic missiles – being test fired in 2017

The United States and South Korea have recently warned that the North may be preparing to test-fire an ICBM at full range for the first time since 2017.

U.S. officials said at least two recent tests, on February 27 and March 5, featured the North’s largest ICBM system yet, the Hwasong-17.

‘The purpose of these tests, which did not demonstrate ICBM range, was likely to evaluate this new system before conducting a test at full range in the future, potentially disguised as a space launch,’ a U.S. official said at the time.

Pyongyang did not identify the missile system used in those launches, but said they were testing components for a reconnaissance satellite system.

This month, leader Kim Jong Un said North Korea would soon launch multiple satellites to monitor military movements by the United States and its allies.

Thursday’s launch would be at least the 13th ballistic missile test fired by North Korea this year, an unprecedented frequency that has drawn condemnation from the United States, South Korea and Japan.

North Korea has been ruled as a communist dictatorship since its founding in 1948

North Korea has been ruled as a communist dictatorship since its founding in 1948

North Korea has been ruled as a communist dictatorship since its founding in 1948

NEW ICBM?

North Korea last held a full ICBM test on November 29 2017, saying it had successfully launched a new type of ICBM, called the Hwasong-15, that could reach all of the U.S. mainland. That missile flew for 53 minutes.

Amid a flurry of diplomacy in 2018, Kim declared a self-imposed moratorium on testing ICBMs and nuclear weapons, but has since suggested the North could resume such testing amid stalled denuclearization talks.

That moratorium had often been touted as a success by former US President Donald Trump, who held several historic summits with Kim in 2018 and 2019, but never managed to sign a concrete pact to limit the North’s nuclear or missile arsenals.

On January 19, North Korea said it would bolster its defenses against the United States and consider resuming ‘all temporally suspended activities’, according to state news agency KCNA, an apparent reference to the self-imposed moratorium.

Analysts say the Hwasong-17 is ‘considerably larger’ than the Hwasong-15, and was first unveiled in Oct 2020 and then displayed a second time in Oct 2021.

The missile, which has been shown on a transporter vehicle with 11 axles, would be one of the world’s largest road-mobile ICBMs when operational.  

Source: Daily Mail

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