The North Korean government made an announcement via their news agency that they carried out a successful test of a mid-range missile, despite frequent warnings against these tests by the United States and the United Nations Security Council. Ji Jae Ryong, the North Korean ambassador to China, gave his message to the United Nations today on behalf of his country: “The test-firing of ICBMs will occur at any time and place, at the will of North Korea’s highest leadership.” These tests come after North Korean accusations of American aggression, focused on their continued military drills with South Korea and Japan. North Korea has expressed their belief that the United States is influencing South Korea to engage in a renewed war with their northern neighbor, and paints their own nuclear program as preparation for defense.
According to the North Korean news agency, the launch was focused on testing the homing feature and the re-entry of a large nuclear warhead. Past news releases by the Kim Jong Un administration have been met with skepticism, but this news appears to be legitimate according to experts in the field of North Korean affairs. John Schilling, an aerospace analyst for 38 North, called it “a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile”. North Korea says the missile was able to fly 489 miles with a peak altitude of 1,312 miles; Schilling says this data “appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile that might enable them to reliably strike the U.S. base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile”. The United States mainland is about 8,000 miles away from North Korea, and despite being one of the primary targets of the North Korean nuclear program, that capability is still far off, even as analysts acknowledge the program is inching closer to that feat being a legitimate possibility.