North Korea tested intercontinental ballistic
missile (ICBM) named HWASONG-14 on Friday that appears to have the range to hit major
US cities. North Korea now has tested this ICBM twice
in July and what is most alarming is the fact that the latest test seems to show that the
Hwasong-14 missile can travel even more distance that previously thought. Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News
Agency said on Saturday that the test was designed to show the Hwasong-14’s maximum
range with a “large-sized heavy nuclear warhead”. It added that Washington should regard the
launch as a “grave warning.” In this video, Defense Updates analyzes the
latest missile test by North Korea and evaluates its implications. Lets get started. A combination of US, South Korean and Japanese
analyses of the launch from Mupyong-ni, near North Korea’s border with China, shows the
missile flew about 47 minutes, going 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) high and for a distance
of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles). According to David Wright, a missile expert
at the Union of Concerned Scientists, if the missile were fired on a flatter, standard
trajectory, it would have major US cities like Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago well
within its range, with possibly the ability to reach as far as New York and Boston. Kim Dong-yub, a defense analyst at the Institute
for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul said:
“Depending on how heavy a warhead it carries, this latest North Korean missile would easily
reach the West Coast of the United States with a range of 9,000 to 10,000 kilometers,”
or 5,600 to 6,200 miles. He added, “With this missile, North Korea
leaves no doubt that its missile has a range that covers most of the United States.” There were indications earlier this week that
nuclear-armed North Korea was preparing for another ballistic missile test. Some experts had predicted the communist nation
would launch the test on Thursday to mark Victory Day, a military holiday but was delayed
one day due to unfavorable weather conditions. Regardless, the new test represents a setback
in efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. International community and U.S has been trying
to compel North Korea to give up its missile and nuke programs by enforcing sanctions,
but these have failed. China, North Korea’s longtime ally, has been
pressuring the regime to abandon these programs but so far has little to show for it. Experts say North Korea currently is known
to have the capability to send missiles to all of South Korea, Japan, as well as to Guam
and the Hwasong-14 is a major step augmenting its strikes capabilities. A missile is as destructive as its warhead,
which is why North Korea is running missiles and nuke program in parallel. In total North Korea has conducted 5 nuclear
tests till now. The first nuke test was conducted by North
Korea on Oct. 8, 2006. As per the United States analysts, it had
a yield of less than one kiloton of TNT. Blasts have become more powerful since then. The device tested by the North, in January
2016, had a force equivalent of 7 kilotons of TNT. By contrast, the device detonated on Sept
2016 looks to have had a force equivalent of 25 kilotons of TNT, according to the most
analysis. Let us now compare these with other known
tests & explosions. Trinity Test in New Mexico in July 1945, which
ushered in the nuclear age, had a yield of 20 kilo tons. Hiroshima’s “Little Boy” bomb had a yield
of 13-18 kilo tons whereas Nagasaki’s “Fat Man” bomb had a yield of 20–22 kilo tons
of TNT. As per latest estimates of Institute for Science
and International Security in U.S, North Korea is believed to have 13 to 30 nukes. So it can be inferred that North Korea currently
has a decent nuclear capability in its hand, and looking at increasing yield of its bombs,
it can be said that it will have immense destructive power at its disposal in coming days. The ultimate goal is to have ICBM with a range
to reach whole of US carrying nuclear warhead. North Korea now seems to have more or less
perfected the missile technology. US official familiar with the latest intelligence
assessment confirmed that North Korea would have a deployable solution in place by 2018. This is an acceleration of 2 years from previous
estimates that put Pyongyang 3 to 5 years from fully developing long-range missile capabilities. Now North Korea may concentrate on miniaturization
of nuclear bombs, so that the missiles can carry the nukes effectively. It can be said that the US and international
community no longer has a ticking clock, but the time has actually run out. North Korea has cleared the major technical
hurdles and as time goes by they will refine the systems in term of accuracy, readiness
and reliability. U.S will have to accept the fact that now
its mainland can be targeted by North Korea, which was never the case till now. North Korean state media was quick to tout
the missile test as a success, with video and stills showing Kim Jong Un overseeing
the launch and celebrating with the troops involved. Kim is quoted as saying “the whole US mainland”
is now within North Korea’s reach. He called Pyongyang’s weapons program “a precious
asset” that cannot be reversed nor replaced, according to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Hours after that call, the US and South Korean
military conducted a live fire exercise as a show of force in response to the missile
test. Both militaries conducted a similar show of
force, after North Korea’s first test in early July. South Korea said on Saturday it will proceed
with the deployment of 4 additional units of the THAAD anti-missile defense system. As Trump administration grapple with the situation
with no signs of having plans of direct negotiations, there is no reason to expect a quick breakthrough.

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