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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korea announced the successful launch of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in a broadcast on the state-run Korea Central Television (KCTV) on Wednesday.
In a rare special broadcast at 1200 Pyongyang time, announcer Ri Chun Hee said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had ordered the launch of a missile which could strike the “entire” U.S. mainland.
The Hwasong-15 can hit the “entire region of the U.S. mainland,” Ri said, and can be mounted with a “super-large heavy warhead.”
The new rocket has “much greater advantages in its tactical and technical specifications and technical characteristics,” the DPRK’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported in an accompanying statement by the country’s government.
“It is the most powerful ICBM which meets the goal of the completion of the rocket weaponry system development set by the DPRK,” the statement added.
It was launched in “the suburbs of Pyongyang” and flew for 53-minutes, the statement continued, “soaring to the highest altitude of 4475 km” and flying 950 km.
Kim Jong Un reportedly declared that the DPRK has now “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power.”
KCTV announced the launch in a special midday broadcast
The missile test represents Pyongyang’s first launch since September 15, when it successfully fired an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) Hwasong-12 missile, and its third of an ICBM.
But it is the first of the Hwasong-15, of which imagery is yet to be released.
The announcement followed reports by South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. of a missile launch by North Korea in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
It appears to be the longest-range missile ever tested by North Korea.
In response to the launch, South Korea conducted what its Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) described as a “precision strike” missile launch near the Northern Limit Line in the East Sea.
Responding to news of the test, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters Washington would “take care” of North Korea, though did not specify what this response might involve.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, meanwhile, has warned the U.S. and North Korea against “misjudgment” in the wake of the test.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will hold an emergency meeting later in the day.
Featured image: KCTV