North Korean officials must be ecstatic. Following ominous reports that Kim Jong-un’s regime could develop a nuclear-tipped long range missile by early 2018, Pyongyang fired its first missile test in months (since mid-September), which led to President Trump vowing, “We will take care of it.” Shortly thereafter, Secretary of Defense James Mattis informed reporters that the projectile was of the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) variety, and it “went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken.” How high did it fly before splashing into the Sea of Japan, and how far could it reach?
The Washington Post notes that this missile, which was fired nearly straight into the sky, flew for 54 minutes and reached a height of 2,800 miles (as opposed to the International Space Station, which is 240 miles above the Earth’s surface). Here are some comparison numbers from the most recent North Korean missile test along with the mind-boggling range that includes D.C.:
If the missile had flown on a standard trajectory designed to maximize its reach, it would have a range of more than 8,100 miles, said David Wright, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, D.C.” Wright said.
The U.S. capital is 6,850 miles from Pyongyang. The previous intercontinental ballistic missile tested, in July, was in the air for 47 minutes and could have flown 6,500 miles were it on a normal trajectory.
This news is not fantastic, to say the least, and Senior Research Associate Melissa Hanham of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies has even worse details. Based upon the earliest figures, Hanham reports that this latest missile could reach anywhere within the United States. This, of course, includes Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
Late Tuesday, Trump followed up with a tweet about the missile, which he’s now seeing as a reason to increase military spending. He also slammed illegal immigration and brought in the looming government shutdown. At least he hasn’t referred to Kim Jong-un as “short and fat” or “Rocket Man” again.
Perhaps Rex Tillerson should rethink his defense for a shrinking State Department? Just a thought.
(Via Washington Post)