In its latest move of aggression, North Korea launched on Friday an intercontinental ballistic missile near Japanese waters, its second significant weapons test this month. The missile firing “showed a potential ability to launch nuclear strikes on all of the U.S. mainland,” according to the Associated Press. Although it remains unclear whether the Hermit Kingdom possesses functioning nuclear weapons, the Friday launch involved the country’s longest-range missile. It is designed to carry more than one nuclear warhead to overpower the United States missile defense systems. The report continued:
North Korea’s recent torrid run of weapons tests aims to advance its nuclear arsenal and win greater concessions in future diplomacy. It comes as China and Russia have opposed U.S. moves to toughen U.N. sanctions aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear program.
The United States quickly condemned the launch and vowed to take “all necessary measures” to guarantee the safety of its territory and its allies South Korea and Japan. Vice President Kamala Harris met with the leaders of those countries and of Australia, Canada and New Zealand who are attending a regional forum in Bangkok to discuss the launch.
“We again call for North Korea to stop further unlawful, destabilizing acts. On behalf of the United States, I reaffirm our ironclad commitment to our Indo-Pacific alliances,” Harris said at the start of the meeting. “Together the countries represented here will continue to urge North Korea to commit to serious and sustained diplomacy.”
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the ICBM launch from North Korea’s capital region around 10:15 a.m. Japan said it appeared to fly on a high trajectory and land west of its island of Hokkaido.
Japanese and South Korean estimates show the missile flew 620 miles with a maximum altitude of up to 3,790 miles. Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told the AP, the missile had a range exceeding 9,320 miles, “in which case it could cover the entire mainland United States.”