Chris Pleasance, Darren Boyne and Emily Crane — Mail Online May 15, 2017
This is the moment North Korea tested its newest ballistic missile which it claims is capable of launching a ‘large-size heavy nuclear warhead’ to the US mainland.
Footage played on state TV shows the missile, dubbed Hwasong-12, blasting off from a launch pad in the Kusong region on Sunday morning.
The launch was overseen by Kim Jong-un, who was pictured laughing and celebrating with officials before vowing to carry out more nuclear and missile tests.
The missile travelled almost 500miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan just off the Russian coast, according to the state-backed North Korean Central News Agency and South Korean analysts.
Hwasong-12, an intermediate-range ballistic missile, has the longest range of any weapon successfully tested by Kim’s regime, with officials estimating it has a maximum range of 2,500 miles.
Kim claims the new weapon puts the United States mainland within ‘sighting range for strike’, though Los Angeles is located around 5,000miles from the launch site used on Sunday.
North Korea is attempting to develop inter-continental ballistic missiles, named Taepodong, though a successful test of one has yet to be verified.
Kim was said to have hugged officials in the field of rocket research after the launch, saying that they worked hard to achieve a great thing, state media reported.
The North fired the ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia on Sunday in a launch that Washington called a message to South Korea, days after its new president took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.
According to KCNA: ‘The test-fire aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead.’
‘If the U.S. awkwardly attempts to provoke the DPRK, it will not escape from the biggest disaster in the history, Kim said, strongly warning the U.S. should not to disregard or misjudge the reality that its mainland and Pacific operation region are in the DPRK’s sighting range for strike and that it has all powerful means for retaliatory strike,’ KCNA said.
North Korea is believed to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching the mainland United States.
The U.S. military’s Pacific Command said the type of missile that was fired was ‘not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile’.
The White House responded to the missile test by calling for further action against Pyongyang: ‘Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea.’
The North ‘has been a flagrant menace for far too long’, it added in a statement.
The missile came down in the Sea of Japan, allegedly only 60 miles from the Russian coast. The White House said it impacted ‘so close to Russian soil… the president cannot imagine that Russia is pleased’.
Russia’s defence ministry later said the missile landed about 300 miles from its territory and posed no threat.
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss North Korea’s latest missile launch, diplomats said on Sunday, which was requested by the United States and allies South Korea and Japan.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called the launch a message by Pyongyang to South Korea after the election of President Moon Jae-in, who took office on Wednesday.
Speaking to ABC’s ‘This Week’ programme, Haley said: ‘You first have to get into Kim Jong-un’s head — which is, he’s in a state of paranoia, he’s incredibly concerned about anything and everything around him.’
The report on the missile’s flight was largely consistent with South Korean and Japanese assessments on Sunday that it flew 435 miles and reached an altitude of more than 1,243 , which is further and higher than an intermediate-range missile tested in February from the same region, northwest of Pyongyang.
Washington-based monitoring project 38 North said: ‘North Korea’s latest successful missile test represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile’
‘It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that might enable them to reliably strike the U.S. base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).’
KCNA claimed Kim ‘told the rocket scientists and technicians not to be complacent… and continue to build more… nuclear weapons and methods of delivery’ until the US made the ‘right choice’.
Kim then ‘warned that the US will not be able to avoid the worst-ever catastrophe if it recklessly provokes our republic’.
He added ‘all US mainland and US-Pacific regions are within the range of our attacks’.