North Korea’s decision to launch a test of their latest ballistic missile platform, which they claim can reach U.S. shores, on the eve of America’s Fourth of July celebration was not coincidental, but was rather intended as a message to the Western power, according to statements made by Kim Jong Un.

In fact, Kim’s translated words were even more direct, calling the test launch of their new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile a “package of gifts” for “American bastards” on their July 4 Independence Day holiday.

State media outlet KCNA released photos of the North Korean Supreme Leader observing the missile test through binoculars on Monday.  The test, which experts are calling a two-stage missile with a maximum range that may exceed 4,000 miles, was lauded as a success in the North Korean media.  According to report published by KCNA the day after the test, the missile launched is not only capable of reaching parts of the United States, but can also carry a “large-sized heavy nuclear warhead.”

The report goes on to claim that despite “extreme overload and vibration the nuclear warhead detonation control device successfully worked.”

The missile test saw North Korea’s most advanced platform to date reach a maximum altitude of a reported 1,741 miles above the earth, before reentering the atmosphere and landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone some 578 miles from its launch pad.

North Korea claims the missile platform is capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, though experts estimate it would likely only be capable of reaching Alaska – which still marks a significant improvement over previous missiles tested by Kim’s regime.  Further, the engineering challenges North Korea’s ballistic missile program faces to increase the missile’s range are far smaller than those they have already overcome.

A ballistic missile is generally considered to be a true ICBM once it is capable of striking targets beyond 5,500 kilometers, or about 3,417 miles.  At somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4,000-mile range, U.S. estimates place North Korea’s latest missile firmly in ICBM territory – a significant leap for the reclusive, and aggressive, state.

The launch continues to demonstrate that North Korea poses a threat to the United States and our allies,” Pentagon spokesperson, Dana W. White said of the test. “Together with [South Korea], we conducted a combined exercise to show our precision fire capability.”

The United States and South Korea conducted their own ballistic missile drill, which entailed targeting “the enemy’s leadership in case of an emergency,” a South Korean Defense Ministry Statement read.

We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies and to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat from North Korea,” White said. “The United States seeks only the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Our commitment to the defense of our allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, remains ironclad.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council, which is slated to commence on Wednesday afternoon.


Image courtesy of North Korean State Media