Pyongyang resumes testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles for the first time since 2017
A photo: REUTERS
North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on November 18 that reached Mach 22, or 22 times the speed of sound. According to calculations, she had a range sufficient to reach the mainland of the United States, reports “Reuters”.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters that the latest missile is capable of flying up to 15,000 kilometers, while Hirokazu Matsuno, Secretary General of the Cabinet of Ministers, said that after the launch of the ICBM, it rose to a height of about 6,000 kilometers, and then, having covered a thousand kilometers, landed in the sea for about 200 kilometers west of the uninhabited island of Oshima, which belongs to the Japanese province of Hokkaido. North Korea often conducts its tests in such a way that the missile flies much higher than the normal trajectory, but for a shorter distance.
The launch scared even the staff of the Misawa Air Base, where both Japanese and American troops are stationed. According to the military unit’s Facebook page*, the base command ordered the military to hide in a shelter during the launch, just in case. And all this against the background of the visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris to the APEC summit in Thailand.
In general, this year was a record year for the country’s Korean missile program. Pyongyang has resumed testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles for the first time since 2017, ending its own voluntary moratorium on long-range munitions launches.
Today’s launch was the eighth ICBM test by North Korea this year, according to US State Department calculations. This type of weapon is considered the most long-range in the arsenal of Pyongyang and, moreover, can carry nuclear charges capable of hitting targets in the United States. Moreover, according to some American experts, one Korean ICBM can carry several individually targetable warheads at once, which are separated already in flight and can each independently strike at its own target.
“It will not come to a real conflict”
Alexander Zhebin, political scientist and Korean scholar:
– According to my assessment, the probability of a sharp aggravation of the situation on the Korean Peninsula is relatively low. Everything will depend on the position of the United States and their intention to go to the conflict. The DPRK launches missiles only for testing, they are not really going to attack anyone, both Seoul and Washington know about this. There are still pragmatists in Pyongyang, and they understand that in any case, the United States, which has a significant military presence in the region, will join the war.
Now, taking advantage, among other things, of the geopolitical situation in the world, the deterioration of relations between the United States and China and the aggravation of the situation in Europe, the North Koreans felt that Washington simply “is not up to them,” and therefore decided to use this period to modernize their armed forces.
At the same time, I want to say that the statements about “intercontinental ballistic missiles” cannot yet be considered proven, because only one launch can really be considered “intercontinental”. The fact recognized by all serious scientists is that the DPRK has never yet tested an ICBM at a range of more than 5.5 thousand kilometers, that is, so far we do not see actual confirmation of the intercontinental range.
There is another important point: the DPRK has never tested a warhead for an ICBM, which is one of the key elements of a missile, as it is subjected to enormous loads and can collapse during entry into the dense layers of the atmosphere.
In general, all this hysteria and panic, whipped up by the United States, does not come from a real threat of Pyongyang’s missile attacks on America or Japan, but is due to the desire to justify the buildup of the US military presence in the region and the strengthening of military blocs – the alliance of the United States, Japan and South Korea, as well as QUAD (Australia, India, US and Japan Strategic Dialogue on Indo-Pacific Security Issues).
* Social network recognized in Russia as extremist and banned