North Korea on Monday boasted of a successful weekend launch of a new type of “medium long-range” ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.
Outsiders also saw a significant technological jump, with the test-fire apparently flying higher and for a longer time period than any other such previous missile.
Amid condemnation in Seoul, Tokyo, Washington and Moscow, a jubilant North Korean leader Kim Jong-un promised more nuclear and missile tests and warned that his country’s weapons could strike the U.S. mainland and Pacific holdings.
North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness Pyongyang has threatened for decades to reduce Seoul to a “sea of fire”, for instance but Monday’s claim, if confirmed, would mark another big advance toward the North’s goal of fielding a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Some experts, including officials in Tokyo, estimate that Sunday’s launch successfully tested a new type of missile, potentially the longest in North Korea’s arsenal.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) called the missile a “new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket,” and said the ‘Hwasong-12’ was “capable of carrying a large, heavy nuclear warhead.” Kim witnessed the test and “hugged officials in the field of rocket research, saying that they worked hard to achieve a great thing,” according to KCNA.