North Korea’s recent launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile has the capability of striking most of the continental United States, according to a report.
The rocket launched last Friday remained airborne for 45 minutes – longer than an ICBM launch on July 4 that lasted for 39 minutes – and showed greater range, Reuters reported on Monday, citing US officials.
Earlier estimates suggested the rocket had the range to strike Chicago.
The reason it had was able to reach a greater height with more range and power than previous test firings was because it used stabilizing engines that countered the effects of wind and other forces that could knock it off course, a source told the news agency.
President Kim Jong Un called the Friday firing of the ICBM a “stern warning” to the US that his regime would be able to retaliate in case of attack.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the assessment of the rocket’s range, other than to acknowledge it was the longest test flight of any North Korean missile so far.
“The specifics of our assessment are classified for reasons I hope you understand,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.
He confirmed that the missile could fly at least 3,420 miles, the minimum range for what the Pentagon classifies as an ICBM, the report said.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang has been showing “highly unusual and unprecedented levels” of submarine activity and evidence of an “ejection test” in the days following the ICBM launch on Friday, CNN reported, citing US defense officials.
The test gauges a missile’s “cold launch system,” which uses high pressure steam to power a rocket out of a launch canister before its engine ignites. The process prevents flames and heat from the engine from damaging the submarine or barge used to launch the missile, the news network reported.
President Trump has been frustrated by the inability of China, North Korea’s main trading partner, to curb Kim’s weapons programs, tweeting on Monday that “China could easily solve this problem.”
Later, at a meeting of his Cabinet secretaries, the president said his administration would “handle” the threat posed by the reclusive regime.
“We will handle North Korea. We are gonna be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything,” Trump said.
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