North Korea fired a ballistic missile which splashed down in the Sea of Japan early Wednesday, the South Korean, Japanese, and US militaries confirmed. Pyongyang claimed the Hwasong-15 reached an altitude of around 4,475 kilometers and flew 950 kilometers during its flight, which lasted 53 minutes.
Pyongyang announced in a statement read on North Korean state TV that the missile was a Hwasong-15. “Tipped with super-large heavy warhead,” the missile is “capable of striking the whole mainland of the US,” the statement from North Korea said on Wednesday, as cited by KCNA Watch.
“After watching the successful launch of the new type ICBM Hwasong-15, Kim Jong Un declared with pride that now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power,” it added.
The aim of the missile is solely “to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country from the US imperialists’ nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat,” according to Pyongyang.
If the missile was indeed a Hwasong-15, it would mean a new development for North Korea. The other launches that took place in 2017 were either claimed to be the older Hwasong-14 ICBM, or the intermediate range (IRBM) Hwasong-12.
Russia condemned Wednesday’s launch of the Hwasong-15, calling it “a provocative act that triggers further escalation and moves us further away from crisis settlement,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. “We do condemn the launch and hope all the parties will exercise restraint which is so much needed to prevent the situation in the Korean peninsula from going the worst way.”
US President Donald Trump described the latest missile test as “a situation that we will handle,” saying that it won’t change his approach to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. “I will only tell you that we will take care of it,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.