North Korea has tested perhaps its largest long-range missile

North Korea on Thursday launched a long-range missile with its highest peak, signaling a full-fledged return to its dark days of saber-rattling and a significant step towards perfecting its nuclear weapons program that made it an illegal state.

The missile, which analysts say is capable of reaching the entire United States, presents another foreign policy challenge for President Joe Biden, who is already facing a crisis on multiple fronts, including Russia’s war against Ukraine and talks on Iran’s nuclear program.

The launch, the twelfth of this year, is the first intercontinental ballistic missile launch to show a long range since 2017 when North Korea tested two ICBMs – the new missile traveled 3,700 miles in the air on a high trajectory.

White House Press Secretary Jane Sackie said in a statement that the United States has “strongly condemned” the launch, citing “flagrant violations of multiple Security Council resolutions and unnecessarily increasing tensions and the risk of destabilizing the region.”

But with Biden in Europe rallying allies against Russia, the world seems to be largely confused by North Korea’s further advances in its ballistic missile technology.

“Right now, the United States is going to be completely confused. The Biden administration has not really raised a finger to start talks with North Korea about dismantling its nuclear weapons program,” said retired Marine Colonel Steve Ganyard, an ABC News contributor and former State Department and Pentagon spokesman. Officer.

The Biden administration’s repeated attempts to start talks with Pyongyang have been met with silence. Last fall, North Korea’s powerful leader Kim Jong Un said the US outreach was “nothing more than a mask to cover up their deception and hostile actions” and instead became internal as North Korea fought the crippled economy through sanctions and COVID-19 restrictions. .

But instead of alleviating the suffering of the North Korean people, Kim’s government has continued to pour funds and energy into an expanded nuclear weapons program that they see as a guarantee of its security. This year alone, North Korea has now tested 12 missiles – the most in a single month in January – but Thursday was probably the most significant so far.

“It’s a huge missile … [that]If the kilometer data were proven, it could reach anywhere in the United States, “Ganyard said.” Kim knows the world is confused, and so what better time to test a very provocative and unstable missile. “

According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, the missile was launched from the west coast of North Korea and went east and high. It flew for about 71 minutes, landing in the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which Tokyo sees as a direct threat. It flew an estimated 684 miles at a maximum altitude of 3,728 miles – marking the highest apogee yet for a North Korean launch.

This high launch means not allowing the missile to fly directly over an opponent like Japan or even an ally like Russia, which can create a risk.

Analysts are still studying the launch and determining what type of missile it was, but it could be the same one that North Korea launched in October 2020 with much fanfare.

Either way, “you can interpolate it [data] And accurately predicting that this missile would be able to cover the entire land mass of the continental United States, “said retired General Robert Abrams, an ABC News military contributor and former commander of US forces in Korea.

“I will say no doubt now,” Abrams said, adding that North Korea could strike anywhere in the United States.

Still, key questions remain about the capability, which includes the ability to integrate a missile’s nuclear warhead that can survive re-entry and hit properly, according to Abrams.

But he added, “It’s definitely in their perception, I would say.”

It marks a new step in perfecting Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program. But the White House seems to have downplayed the significance, pointing to two more ICBM tests earlier this year and has so far refused to call it an ICBM like South Korea and Japan.

On February 26 and March 4, North Korea conducted a ballistic missile test that the United States later involved in a new ICBM system – it is believed to be used in Thursday’s test.

But those launches did not demonstrate the long-range capabilities of the missile, “possibly evaluating this new system before conducting full-range tests in the future,” the Pentagon said at the time.

That future may have come on Thursday.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

North Korea is already under sanctions from the United States and the United Nations, although some analysts argue that more could be done. The next step in the UN Security Council is to ensure that North Korea’s allies China and Russia block it. And Pyongyang continues to reject diplomacy.

“As a matter of principle, does North Korea have an ICBM capable of nuclear weapons that could or could not expand to any city in the United States?” Abrams says.

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