North Korea claimed to have successfully test launched an intermediate range ballistic missile – the Hwasong-12 – during the early hours of Sunday morning, an article released by state media said on Monday morning.
The test was “aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead,” KCNA said.
North Korea warned the United States not to provoke it, saying the “US mainland and Pacific operations” are within range of North Korean missiles.
Analysts called this North Korea’s most successful missile test ever and a significant advancement in its quest to build a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
“North Korea’s latest successful missile test represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile,” aerospace engineer John Schilling wrote on the blog 38 North, published by the US Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
One expert familiar with North Korea’s missile programs said the Hwasong-12 designation was new and that the test could represent a significant step forward for the country’s ballistic missile program.
“This press release looks like it is designed to show off (the new missiles’) precision,” said Scott Lafoy, a Washington D.C.-based analyst for NK Pro. “It gives very specific times, apogee, and range, implying that they can very accurately track and measure everything in their test range.”
“They specifically emphasize testing under “worst-case” conditions, which is meant to imply they have developed the reentry shields necessary for IRBM and long-range systems.”
Another expert said the test had “very serious implications,” adding that the missile launched was likely a multiple stage, liquid propelled, intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) and was one of the newly-developed devices on display in last month’s military parade in Pyongyang.