DPRK fires intercontinental ballistic missile

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The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has confirmed that it successfully tested a “Hwasong 15” intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Wednesday.

Graphic: AFP

A Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) statement, which confirms earlier assessments from the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK), claims the new type of ICBM “is capable of striking the whole mainland of the U.S..”


It was Pyongyang’s first test launch since a missile was fired in mid-September, days after its sixth nuclear test. 

The ICBM was launched at 02:48 local time on Wednesday, according to the KCNA statement, and flew to an altitude of 4,475 km and then a distance of 950 km.

It was launched from Sain Ni in the DPRK and flew for 53 minutes before splashing down into the Sea of Japan, said Pentagon spokesman Robert Manning.

The launch has been widely condemned by the international community.

New type of missile

The DPRK said on Wednesday that the successful test of the “Hwasong 15” ICBM “realized great historic cause of completing state nuclear force.”


U.S., Japanese and ROK officials all agreed the missile 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,” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the White House.

• South Korea Reaction: South Korea’s military stages ‘precision strike’ missile exercise in response to DPRK’s missile launch, South Korea’s military official said. South Korean President Moon Jae-in convened a National Security Council meeting to discuss the missile launch, Yonhap reported. Moon said DPRK’s missile launch posed a serious threat to world peace, demanding stronger sanctions. “Both leaders underscored the grave threat that North Korea (DPRK)’s latest provocation poses not only to the United States and the Republic of Korea, but to the entire world,” the White House said in an account of a crisis call between U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. 

• Japan Reaction: Japan’s prime minister ordered an emergency meeting of cabinet ministers over DPRK’s missile launch, said Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary. Japan government estimates DPRK missile flew for 50 minutes and landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Japan has requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council over the ballistic missile, Sky News reported. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the latest DPRK missile launch was a “violent act” that “can never be tolerated” after the ICBM splashed down in its exclusive economic zone. “We will never yield to any provocative act. We will maximize our pressure” on Pyongyang, Abe told reporters.  “The government welcomes the fact that China is taking concrete steps such as an embargo on imports of North Korea’s (DPRK) coal, marine products, textile products, among others,” Abe told a parliamentary committee. “Frankly speaking, I feel that China is playing its role” over the U.N.-agreed sanctions, he added.

• U.S. Reaction: The U.S. military has also confirmed that there was a probable missile launch from DPRK, according to Pentagon spokesperson Col. Rob Manning. U.S. President Trump was briefed, while missile was still in the air, said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Twitter. Pentagon says initial assessment of DPRK’s launch was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), traveled about 1,000 km before splashing into Sea of Japan. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch did not pose a threat to North America, U.S. territories or its allies, according to Pentagon’s statement. U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis said the ICBM went higher than any previous test. It is a “research and development effort” on DPRK’s part. U.S. President Donald Trump said ‘we will take care of it’ following the launch. “The United States strongly condemns North Korea’s launch…indiscriminately threatening its neighbors, the region and global stability,” U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson said, and added “all nations must continue strong economic and diplomatic measures.” The statement also said, “diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now.”

• China Reaction: China is “gravely concerned”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday, while calling on all parties to act cautiously in order to preserve regional peace and stability.”China strongly demands the DPRK abide by the UN Security Council resolutions and refrain from actions that heighten the tension on the Korean Peninsula,” Geng told reporters at daily news briefing.

• Russia Reaction: The latest test of the ICBM is a provocative act, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, while calling on all sides involved to stay calm to avoid a clash. “Certainly, this new missile launch is a provocative act, which provokes further growth in tension and which moves us further away from the point where a settlement of the crisis can begin,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters. While condemning the latest test, the Kremlin’s Peskov said: “We hope that all the sides involved are able to preserve calm, which is so necessary to avoid the situation on the Korean peninsula sliding towards a worst-case scenario.” Russia and China have proposed a roadmap for defusing the crisis in the region. On Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry repeated its offer to use the plan, calling on Pyongyang to stop its missile and nuclear tests, while urging the United States and South Korea to abstain from their unprecedentedly large-scale, unscheduled military air exercises announced to be held in early December”.

• NATO Reaction: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned DPRK missile launch.

• U.N. Reaction: The United Nations has confirmed the U.N. Security Council will hold an urgent meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss DPRK’s missile launch. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the launch and called for Pyongyang to “desist from taking any further destabilizing steps.”

Timeline of DPRK’s missile and nuclear tests

Story compiled information from various agencies, including the Associated Press, AFP, Sky News, CGTN;Graphic from AFP, AP.