North Korea’s new ICBM: What we know about the missile and Kim Jong Un’s plans

North Korean state media reported on Friday that leader Kim Jong Un directly guided the launch of the weapon, known as the Hwasong-17, the most advanced to date. The report described the launch as a “strong nuclear war deterrent” and quoted Kim as saying the country’s forces were “fully ready” for the potential military. confront the United States.

The massive weapon could, at least in theory, put the entire mainland of the United States within range of a North Korean nuclear warhead, but much remains unknown about its ability to deliver nuclear payloads to its target. missile target.

Here’s a look at the rocket launched on Thursday.

North Korean state media on Friday released images showing a large, liquid-fueled rocket being fired from a mobile launcher at Pyongyang International Airport.

A report from the Korean Central News Agency said the missile reached a maximum altitude of 6,248.5 km (3,905 miles), flew a distance of 1,090 km (681 miles) and had a flight time of 68 minutes before landing. body in the expected sea. “between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. That is very much in line with estimates by Japanese monitors, who say the missile fell within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, a few miles from the Oshima peninsula in Hokkaido, the island’s main island. Japan’s northernmost main island, about 150 km to the west.

It is the longest and highest time of North Korea Missile test on file.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks in front of a rocket, in a photo released by state media on Friday.

Analysts said it was fired on a skewed trajectory, making it possible to avoid flying over any other country. But they note that if it were fired in the normal, flatter orbit of the ICBM, it would have the entire continental United States within its reach.

“This is the longest-range missile North Korea has ever tested,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a weapons expert and professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Can this missile carry a nuclear warhead?

Experts say that the Hwasong-17 is certainly large enough to carry one or possibly several nuclear weapons.

“This really represents is North Korea’s steady progress Lewis said.

But critically, progress does not mean the real ability to do so.

While Thursday’s test showed the missile’s possible range, experts did not know what kind of payload it was carrying. Because the weight of the final payload affects how far the missile can fly, observers cannot know for sure the actual range of the missile without this information.

Can North Korea put nuclear warheads on target?

Experts note that Pyongyang has not shown Is it possible to build a system? that would allow nuclear warheads to survive being introduced into Earth’s atmosphere.
Kim Jong Un watches a rocket launch, in a photo released by state media.

Since ICBMs are fired into space, like a space shuttle or a space capsule, the warhead must be able to withstand a fiery journey through the outer layers of Earth’s atmosphere without burning up.

“I was the one who thought they might[come back]alive. There were some people who were a bit skeptical about that,” Lewis said.

But that’s something North Korea can learn from tests like Thursday’s, he said.

What is North Korea’s next missile program?

Leader Kim Jong Un has outlined an ambitious plan to provide North Korea with a credible nuclear deterrent, meaning an arsenal powerful enough to stop any adversary, especially especially the US, attack.

According to a KCNA report on Friday, Kim said Thursday’s test confirmed that North Korea’s strategic forces are “fully ready to restrain and thoroughly prevent any dangerous military plots.” from the American Empire.”

Lewis said the North Korean leader was “going through” a long list of weapons modernization activities launched more than a year ago.

An image of Thursday's Hwasong-17 launch, published in North Korea's state media.

“(Kim) said these are all things North Korea would do and include a multi-warhead ICBM. Solid propellant ICBM, launch of military satellites and even launch of nuclear-powered submarines. sea,” Lewis said.

“I don’t think he’s going to stop until that list is completed,” Lewis said.

Earlier, North Korea announced plans to improve the accuracy of the missile and increase the range to 15,000 km (9,320 miles).

“I think we’re in a phase of missile testing, nuclear testing and stress, that’s probably going to last for a year or so,” Lewis said.

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