North Korea said it has test-fired its biggest-yet intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) under the orders of leader Kim Jong Un, who vowed to expand the North's «nuclear war deterrent» while preparing for a «long-standing confrontation» with the US.
The report by North Korean state media on Friday came a day after the militaries of South Korea and Japan said they detected the North launching an ICBM in its first long-range test since 2017.
State TV dramatized the testing process like a Hollywood movie, showing Kim walking in slow motion in front of his giant missile in sunglasses and a black leather motorcycle jacket. It edited quick cuts that alternately show Kim and other officials staring at their watches before Kim takes off his shades and nods, with the video then showing the missile being rolled out of the hangar.
The Hwasong-17 ICBM, which was fired on a high trajectory to avoid the territorial waters of neighbors, reached a maximum altitude of 6,248 kilometers (3,880 miles) and traveled 1,090 kilometers (680 miles) during a 67-minute flight before landing in waters between North Korea and Japan, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said.
The agency claimed the test met desired technical objectives and proved that the ICBM system would be promptly operated during wartime conditions.
The South Korean and Japanese militaries had announced similar flight details, which analysts say suggested that the missile could reach targets 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles) away when fired on normal trajectory with a warhead weighing less than a ton. That would place the entire U.S. mainland within striking distance.
Believed to be about 25 meters (82 feet) long, the Hwasong-17 is the North’s longest-range weapon and, by some estimates, the world’s biggest road mobile ballistic missile system. The missile was first revealed in a military parade in October 2020 and Thursday’s launch represented its first full-range test.