North Korea tested another ballistic missile on Friday, once again reaching the waters of Japan’s economic zone while creating new fears for the rest of the globe. Experts now says this latest test shows Pyongyang is capable of reaching the continental United States with its Hwasong-14 missiles, threatening not only Japan and South Korea but American cities including Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago. Kim Jong-un celebrated the launch with his troops according to a new video, while top national security brass in South Korea, Japan, and the Pentagon gathered in the middle of the night to immediately investigate and respond.
The state-run Central News Agency told the global community that the latest launch should be taken as a “grave warning.” President Trump responded by calling the test “only the latest reckless and dangerous action by the North Korean regime” and South Korea noted this is indeed “a significant advancement in technology.” Shinzo Abe of Japan agreed that this new threat is “grave and real.” China, which has been pulling away from the United States in recent weeks to try its own approach in improving relations with North Korea, warned its neighbors and the U.S. to “avoid intensifying tensions.”
The latest test is a major leap forward from the last missile North Korea launched, which Pyongyang claims had a range capable of hitting Alaska. This latest missile was analyzed by the United States, South Korea, and Japan and it was found to have flown about 45 minutes, reaching an altitude of 2,300 miles and a distance of 621 miles. North Korea is still working on finessing not only missile trajectory but also how payload, particularly nuclear payload, would affect the missile’s range.
All of these missile tests are in violation of United Nations resolutions, but he international community can’t decide on how best to halt Pyongyang’s ambitions and punish it for these tests. Economic sanctions have yet to dampen their aggressive mood, and China has pulled back from the United States’ hardline approach to see what would happen if they use their economic clout to subtly influence Pyongyang. China has also been ramping up its military presence in the South China Sea. The U.S. and South Korean military have conducted highly visible tests of their own defenses and THAAD missile system as a warning to North Korea. Hawaii is testing a missile warning system that could be implemented by the fall as a precaution.