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Experts Raise Capability of North Korean Missiles

north korea test

By Debbie Gregory.

One year: that’s the current estimate that American intelligence agencies have given before North Korea has the ability to launch a missile that can reach the continental United States.

Just a few weeks ago, the official estimate stood at about four years. But recent test launches have intelligence experts updating the narrative. Pyongyang has carried out 12 missile tests since February and conducted its first test of an ICBM on July 4 — which it says could reach “anywhere in the world.”

Most recently, on July 28th, North Korea’s leader Kim Jung-un tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears to have the range to hit major U.S. cities, according to the experts.

The missile launch from Mupyong-ni flew about 45 minutes, going 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) high and for a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).

If the missile trajectory had been flattened, it could have reached Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago, depending on how heavy a payload the missile was carrying in its warhead; the heavier the payload, the shorter the range.

In a recent statement, Scott Bray, a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said, “North Korea’s recent test of an intercontinental range ballistic missile — which was not a surprise to the Intelligence Community — is one of the milestones that we have expected would help refine our timeline and judgments on the threats that Kim Jong Un poses to the continental United States.”

Condemning the missile launch, President Trump said the United States would act to ensure its security.

“Threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy and deprive its people,” Trump said in a written statement. “The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.”

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Pentagon Confident in Defense Against N. Korea

missile

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Defense Department, reacting to North Korea’s statement that it plans to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, said it was confident in its ability to protect U.S. allies and the U.S. homeland from threats from Pyongyang.

Pyongyang is the capital and largest city of North Korea.”We remain confident in our ballistic missile defense and in our defense of our allies and our defense of the homeland,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at a news briefing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, in a New Year’s speech Sunday, said the country was “in the final stages of test-launching the intercontinental ballistic missile.”

“We have a ballistic missile defense … umbrella that we’re confident in for the region and to protect the United States homeland,” Cook said.

In 2016, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and numerous missile launches last year alone in its quest to develop a nuclear weapons system capable of hitting the US mainland.

“We would once again call on the North Koreans to refrain from provocative actions,” Cook said.

President Donald Trump dismissed Pyongyang’s missile claims, tweeting, “”North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US. It won’t happen!”

North Korea’s drive to develop nuclear ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States and its allies has prompted Washington to reinforce its antimissile defenses in the region.

The defense strategy is based notably on the AEGIS system, powerful TPY-2 radars and the antiballistic missile system THAAD that Washington is relocating to South Korea, a move that has provoked China, North Korea’s main ally.

The Pentagon spokesman declined to comment to reporters on whether the US had prepared scenarios on deterrent military actions to stop North Korea from developing nuclear missiles.

“We’re constantly adjusting to the threat North Korea poses,” Cook said.

Pyongyang “has shown disregard to the international community for its international obligations,” he said. “And we’re watching this very, very carefully.”

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