This missile test is the first by North Korea since the middle of September, and came about one week after U.S. President Donald J. Trump had placed North Korea back onto the U.S. list of countries it confirms are supporting terrorism, allowing more sanctions to be imposed.
So far, North Korea has conducted in the dozens of ballistic missile tests under its leader, Kim Jong-un, defying international sanctions. Trump vowed to not let North Korea develop nuclear missiles that are able to hit the U.S. mainland.
In a state TV broadcast, North Korea stated the new and more powerful missile attained an altitude of about or 2,780 miles (4,475 km) – over 10 times the height of the international space station (ISS) – and flew 600 miles (950 km) during the time of its 53 minute flight.
After seeing the launch of the new type ICBM Hwasong-15 was successful, Kim Jong Un announced with some pride that “now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power,” according to a television presenter’s read statement.
North Korea described itself in the statement as a “responsible nuclear power”, but did warn that its strategic weapons were developed in order to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty from “the U.S. imperialists’ nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat”.
U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials all agreed this missile, which hit in the Sea of Japan within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, “was likely to be an ICBM but didn’t pose any threat to the United States, its territories or allies,” the Pentagon stated.
“It went higher frankly than any previous shot they’ve taken, a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world, basically,” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said to reporters at the White House.
Trump spoke on the phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe along with South Korean President Moon Jae-In, and all three leaders reaffirmed their commitment to combat the threat imposed by North Korea.
Trump mentioned to reporters, “We will take care of it.” and “It is a situation that we will handle.”
President Trump, who was briefed on the missile launch while it was still in flight, says it didn’t change his administration’s approach to North Korea, which has included new ways to hinder trade between China and North Korea.