North Korea claims to have conducted their first successful test of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) on Monday night.  According to North Korean reports, this new platform is capable of striking the mainland United States.

The United States military tracked the missile’s trajectory throughout the test, determining that it remained aloft for 37 minutes and demonstrated a marked improvement over previous missile platforms seen tested by Kim’s regime.  Experts estimate, based on the performance of Monday night’s test, that North Korea’s ICBM may be capable of traveling as far as 4,000 miles, placing U.S. assets in Alaska well within Kim’s reach.

The missile traveled only 578 miles on Monday night before crashing into the sea between North Korea and Japan, inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, but the duration of its flight speaks to the altitude it is capable of reaching.  Maximum altitude is a more important determining factor in overall range capabilities than distance covered to target for ballistic missile weapon systems.  Based on the distance covered and time airborne, it is believed the missile may have reached an altitude of as high as 1,700 miles.

PACOM initially described the missile as intermediate in range, however, South Korean and Japanese officials are currently studying the flight data to determine whether the new platform is truly a global-strike ICBM.