Tensions with North Korea have ramped up since President Trump made it clear he would not accept their nuclear activities or threats against the United States. Months have gone by with plenty of threats from North Korea, but no missile activity — until this week.
In a television broadcast, North Korea’s state media announced that the country had successfully launched their most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into Japanese waters. As CNN reported, the missile has the capability to hit anywhere on US mainland.
The launch was directly ordered by Kim Jong-un, ending the nation’s two-month missile testing hiatus. The missile was reportedly topped with a “super-large heavy warhead” and deemed the “Hwasong-15” missile.
The Hwasong-15 achieved the highest altitude of any North Korean missile, and was described as the country’s “most powerful ICBM.” The missile achieved a height of 4,000-4,500 kilometers and traveled a distance of 950 kilometers. It spent 53 minutes in the air before landing 210 kilometers west of Aomori Prefecture in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
It was followed by a threat to the United States. “Before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States,” the North Korean official said.
President Trump told reporters at the White House, “We will take care of it.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke from the Roosevelt Room in the White House, where he said the missile traveled “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken” and displays North Korea’s capability to strike “everywhere in the world basically.” Mr. Mattis added, “The bottom line is, it’s a continued effort to build a threat — a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States.”
The missile traveled in an arc but had it traveled on a standard trajectory, it could have achieved a distance of 13,000 kilometers — 8,100 miles. Scientists concur that the missile could reach anywhere in the continental United States.
Adam Mount, of the Federation of American Scientists, stated: “Today’s test proves that Pyongyang still feels able to test at will.” He added that US actions have not deterred North Korean missile tests, and warned that the Trump administration “has to get serious about deterring an atmospheric nuclear test.”
An official White House press release this morning noted that President Trump made a call to Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding North Korea’s missile launch. The statement read: “President Trump underscored the determination of the United States to defend ourselves and our allies from the growing threat posed by the North Korean regime. President Trump emphasized the need for China to use all available levers to convince North Korea to end its provocations and return to the path of denuclearization.”
North Korea can now hit anywhere in the US with an ICBM. Do you think we will go to war?
Another press release noted another call between President Trump and South Korean President, Moon Jae-in. “Both leaders underscored the grave threat that North Korea’s latest provocation poses not only to the United States and the Republic of Korea, but to the entire world. President Trump and President Moon reaffirmed their strong condemnation of North Korea’s reckless campaign to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, noting that these weapons only serve to undermine North Korea’s security and deepen its diplomatic and economic isolation.”
Hopefully, US relations with China and South Korea can put some pressure on North Korea. North Korea’s missile launch, coupled with repeated threats against the US, show that they have no intention of a peaceful relationship with the US. Tensions can only build for so long before it escalates into something dangerous.