March 25, 2022 09:36
North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile towards the East Sea from Sunan in Pyongyang on Thursday afternoon, the first since November 2017.
The ICBM seems to have been improved in terms of both altitude and range and could have the capability to strike major cities in the eastern part of the U.S.
The missile was fired at a high angle to reach a maximum altitude of 6,200 km, contradicting the North's previous claims that it is a space rocket aimed at putting several "military reconnaissance satellites" into orbit. Satellite rockets normally fly at a low altitude of 500 to 700 km.
According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff here, the ICBM reached the altitude of 6,200 km an hour and 10 minutes after launch and then flew about 1,080 km horizontally. That is 1,725 km higher and 130 km longer than the rocket fired four years and four months ago. The altitude is considered the highest in the world's ballistic missile history.
With the launch, the North has officially scrapped a moratorium on ICBM and nuclear tests it declared in 2018 after leader Kim Jong-un warned this January that the moratorium would have to be "revised."
North Korean state media confirmed the launch on Friday morning, saying Kim "directly guided" the test of a "new type" of intercontinental ballistic missile that is North Korea's biggest to date. He said it was vital to nuclear deterrence. He added Pyongyang is preparing for a "long confrontation with U.S. imperialism" and is ready to check and contain any military attempt by the U.S.
Condemnation was swift. The South Korean military fired a Hyunmu-2 surface-to-surface missile, an ATACMS missile and a Haeseong-2 ship-to-surface missile two hours later.
In an emergency National Security Council meeting President Moon Jae-in "strongly condemned" the ICBM launch. He said Kim "scrapped the moratorium on ICBM tests he declared to the international community" and the launch "posed a serious threat to the Korean Peninsula and the international community and clearly violated UN Security Council resolutions."
It was the first time Moon used the expression "condemn" since the regime tested its last ICBM in November 2017.
The U.S. said the launch "is a brazen violation of multiple UN security council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region," according to White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
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