North Korea tests long-range missile with range to strike US

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North Korea tests long-range missile amid escalating tensions.

NORTH KOREA, Dec 18: On Monday, North Korea conducted another test of a long-range ballistic missile, capable of reaching the United States, as reported by officials from Seoul and Tokyo. This marks a continuation of the record-breaking series of weapons tests carried out by North Korea throughout the year, drawing condemnation from Western nations.

The missile launch followed a shorter-range missile test on Sunday night, and the consecutive launches occurred amid heightened tensions between North Korea and its US-South Korean allies. South Korea’s military confirmed the detection of a long-range ballistic missile launched from the Pyongyang area on Monday, covering a distance of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) before splashing down in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.

Notably, the missile reportedly ascended rather than traversed horizontally, a method previously mentioned by Pyongyang to avoid flying over neighboring countries during certain weapons tests. Japan’s defense ministry identified the missile as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with the potential to reach the entire United States.

Shingo Miyake, parliamentary vice-minister of defense for Japan, remarked, “The ICBM-class ballistic missile launched this time if calculated based on the trajectory, depending on weight of warhead, could have a flying range of over 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), in which case the whole of the US territory would be within the range.”

The United Nations Security Council, in response to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile activities since its first nuclear test in 2006, has adopted numerous resolutions urging the cessation of such programs. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida labeled Monday’s launch a “threat to peace and stability” and emphasized its violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

The United States State Department also released a statement condemning the missile test. This marks North Korea’s fifth ICBM test this year, with the last one occurring in July involving the solid-fuel Hwasong-18. Analysts are currently assessing whether Monday’s launch involved a solid-fueled ICBM.

Tensions between North Korea and the United States and South Korea escalated over the weekend, with warnings that any nuclear attack from Pyongyang would result in the end of the North Korean regime. North Korea criticized plans for an expanded joint military exercise in 2024, describing it as an “open declaration on nuclear confrontation.”

Recent actions, including the launch of a military spy satellite last month, have strained relations further, leading to increased security measures along the Demilitarized Zone. South Korea’s Defence Minister Shin Won-sik issued strong warnings, stating that any reckless actions by North Korea would lead to a “hell of destruction.” North Korea has maintained its status as a nuclear power, asserting that its nuclear program is vital for its survival.

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