Just as President Joe Biden was engaged in an unprecedented meeting with NATO and other world leaders over the crisis in Ukraine, North Korea tested what appears to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that flew up over 3,000 miles and could theoretically come down on any city in the US armed with a nuclear warhead!
The suspected ICBM flew to an altitude of 3,728 miles and to a distance of 671 miles with a flight time of 71 minutes before splashing down in waters off Japan’s western coast, according to Japan’s Defense Ministry.
Thursday’s launch is North Korea’s 11th of the year, including one on Mar. 16, which is presumed to have failed. Analysts said the test could be the longest-range missile yet fired by North Korea, exceeding its last ICBM launch in November 2017.
Japan’s Vice Defense Minister Makoto Oniki told reporters that the missile’s altitude would suggest it is a “new type of ICBM,” a potential sign North Korea is closer to developing weapons capable of targeting the United States.
A defiant Kim Jong Un has tested a variety of new missiles, including a purported hypersonic weapon and its first launch since 2017 of an intermediate-range missile potentially capable of reaching Guam, a key US military hub in the Pacific.
It also conducted two medium-range tests from near its capital area in recent weeks that the US and South Korean militaries later assessed as involving components of the North’s largest ICBM, the Hwasong-17, which they said could be tested at full range soon – or may even be the apparent ICBM that was launched on Thursday, Mar. 24.
The US joined allies South Korea and Japan in strongly condemning the launch and called on North Korea to refrain from further destabilizing acts.
According to military experts, the recent spate of North Korean missile tests suggests that Kim Jong Un is attempting to show an increasingly turbulent world that Pyongyang remains a player in the struggle for power and influence.
“North Korea refuses to be ignored and may be trying to take advantage of global preoccupation with the war in Ukraine to force a fait accompli on its status as a nuclear weapons state,” Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, told CNN.
“North Korea is nowhere near initiating aggression on the scale of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But Pyongyang’s ambitions likewise exceed self-defense as it wants to overturn the postwar security order in Asia, added Easley.