North Korea has carried out a successful test of a newly-developed mid-to-long range ballistic missile, one which could carry a nuclear warhead and potentially reach the U.S. territory of Guam, the country announced on Monday. (more)
The missile was fired on Sunday morning but details about the test were not disclosed until Monday, although foreign governments had already released information that suggested that a more advanced missile had been tested.
"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," the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, naming the new missile "Hwasong-12."
Photos showed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un witnessed the test, which took place at 4:58 a.m. on Sunday near the city of Kusŏng in North Pyongan Province. The missile reached an altitude of 2,111 kilometers (1,311 miles) and flew 787 kilometers (489 miles) before falling into waters off its eastern coast.
The Korean Central News Agency said the test was a success and proved the missile's technical capabilities. "Kim Jong Un hugged officials in the field of rocket research, saying that they worked hard to achieve a great thing," the report said.
David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said data from Sunday's test indicates that the Hwasong-12 could have a range of up to 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles), which would put the U.S. territory of Guam within the missile's reach.
Missile expert John Schilling, of the North Korea monitoring project 38 North, said Sunday's test likely represents a "substantial advance" for the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which would be capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
"North Korea's latest successful missile test represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile," Schilling said. "It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that might enable them to reliably strike the US base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an ICBM."
Sunday's test came after months of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, fueled by North Korea's missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as U.S. military exercises and statements by U.S. President Donald Trump.