North Korea launched another ballistic missile on Tuesday, directly defying President Trump and other world leaders who demand North Korea curb its nuclear program.
The missile, which was the regime’s first launch since September and the 20th since January, flew “higher” than any previous launches, said Defense Sec. James Mattis. North Korea’s ongoing weapons program “endangers world peace, regional peace, and certainly the United States,” he added.
North Korea has been working on technology that would allow a future warhead to survive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, enabling it to hit any city within the US.
According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, Tuesday’s missile flew 2,800 miles into space before crashing back through the Earth’s atmosphere and into the Sea of Japan. This is about 1,000 miles higher than the regime’s first ICBM launch on July 4th.
Launch data suggests the missile traveled almost straight up. If it had flown on a more horizontal trajectory, the missile would have a range of over 8,000 miles – meaning it could easily reach Washington, DC.
“With each launch, [North Korean officials] are advancing their capability and they are making it clear that they can hold the entire US at risk,” argues Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “They are steadily moving on and we’re not responding in kind.”
South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon told foreign correspondents that North Korea “has been developing its nuclear weapons at a faster-than-expected pace” and believes the regime could achieve full nuclear capability with an ICBM that could carry a nuclear warhead “within one year.”
According to the Pentagon, Tuesday’s launch did not threaten the US, its territories, or its allies.
“We will take care of it,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday. “It is a situation that we will handle.”
The Trump Administration is keeping “a very serious approach” but will not alter its position on North Korea in response to the launch. “Nothing changed,” said Trump.
In response to the launch, UN ambassadors from Japan, South Korea, and the US have called an emergency meeting to be held on Wednesday.