World War 3: North Korea Ready
North Korea claimed that it successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), named the Hwasong-14, as Americans marked Independence Day.
Launched on the “maximum-lofted” trajectory, it said, the missile reached an apogee of 2,802 kilometers and flew 933 km for 39 minutes.
But there are growing doubts about whether the North has actually mastered ICBM technology.
It would need at least a few more years to develop an ICBM to strike the U.S. mainland, according to Chang Young-keun, a missile expert at Korea Aerospace University.
Citing an simulated analysis, he said the North fired the missile with a 900-kg warhead on a lofted angle to reduce the maximum altitude and avoid possible technical trouble.
“A simulation showed that its range came to only 6,200 km,” Chang said in a report. “If a standard warhead is loaded onto the Hwasong-14 ICBM, it can be used for an attack on Alaska and Hawaii. Its range falls short of a level to hit the U.S. mainland.”
The distance between Pyongyang and San Francisco is about 9,000 km.
He said the Hwasong-14 is believed to be 19.5 meters long, with an 11-meter-long and 1.4-meter-diameter first-stage booster.
The North is expected to focus on developing a small warhead in a bid to extend the range of its ICBM, a work likely to take two or three years.
He echoed an assessment by the South’s state intelligence agency that it remains unconfirmed whether the Hwasong-14 succeeded in atmospheric re-entry, a key element for an ICBM.
The July 4 missile firing was in clear violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Pyongyang and emphasized the communist regime’s development of weapons of mass destruction poses a grave threat to global peace and stability, the ministry said.
The regional powers reaffirmed the importance of coordination to achieve the “complete and irreversible” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and coax the North into halting provocations and returning to dialogue.
The Secondary Boycott
The United States continues to look into a so-called secondary boycott of North Korea to starve the communist nation of resources to develop its nuclear and missile programs, the State Department said Tuesday.
North Korea is under a wide range of sanctions for its missile and nuclear tests, and is expected to face stronger punishment for its intercontinental ballistic missile launch last week.
“We are willing to look at third-party sanctions and look at other nations and sanction them if they are involved in activities that help give money to the DPRK,” department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said during a regular press briefing, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
She noted Washington issued sanctions against Chinese entities last week. Such sanctions, known as a “secondary boycott,” are designed to cut off money to the North.
“The United States continues to look at those as ways to try to shut down the money that is illegally going to North Korea, that we believe — we firmly believe — that it goes to fund its illegal weapons programs.”
Nauert stressed China’s “unique leverage” in dealing with Pyongyang and urged Beijing to do more to rein in the recalcitrant regime.
“We have continued to have conversations with Chinese government officials at all levels, at the highest levels, and we continue to say ‘Thanks for what you’ve done but we expect, and we want, you to do a whole lot more.'”
On Washington’s push to draw up a new sanctions resolution against Pyongyang at the U.N. Security Council, she quoted U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley as saying that the response should be “proportionate.”
“The world is very concerned about the escalation in terms of the threat” posed by North Korea, she said.