Photo: The North Korean missile flew for 47 minutes before splashing down into the ocean. (Reuters: KCNA)
The missile fired in North Korea's latest test may have landed in the Sea of Japan but it proves the nuclear-armed country has weaponry that could "basically put all of the United States within range".And it shows the rogue state has the power to make a "surprise launch of the ICBM in any region and place at any time", according to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Analysts were watching closely as the numbers around the launch rolled in and have since concluded major cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago, could be reached by a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
"This is only the second test of this system. Our estimates from the first one had the missile going about 6,700 kilometres, which put Alaska within range," Shea Cotton from the James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies in California told AM.
"Our estimates with this one [are] that if it was fired within full range, ... this would go about 10,000 to 11,000 kilometres and at that point they've basically put all of the United States within range".
The flight data everyone is watching from the latest launch includes:
- 998 kilometres — range (on-land distance travelled)
- 3724.9 kilometres — apogee (or maximum altitude)
- 47 minutes, 12 seconds — flight time
In the event of an attack, the distance a missile could travel would depend on variables such as the size and weight of the warhead that would be carried atop it.
Dr Wright published this table:
|City||Distance from North Korea||Range of missile toward city|
|Los Angeles||9,500 km||11,700 km|
|Denver||9,800 km||11,400 km|
|Chicago||10,400 km||11,100 km|
|Boston||10,750 km||10,750 km|
|New Yok||10,850 km||10,850 km|
|Washington DC||11,000 km||10,900 km|
What has North Korea said?
Photo: Kim Jong-un says the whole US mainland is in the firing range of DPRK missiles. (Reuters: KCNA)
North Korea's official KCNA news agency reported that Kim Jong-un personally supervised the midnight launch of the missile on Friday night and said it was a "stern warning" for the United States that it would not be safe from destruction if it tried to attack.
"The test-fire reconfirmed the reliability of the ICBM system, demonstrated the capability of making a surprise launch of the ICBM in any region and place any time, and clearly proved that the whole US mainland is in the firing range of the DPRK missiles, [Mr Kim] said with pride," KCNA reported.
DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
OK, so what happens now?This test, and the one on July 4, means North Korea is theoretically capable of striking the US mainland.
And the world already knows it is a very well-stocked nation when it comes to plutonium.
Analysts say North Korea's the nation's missile capabilities have advanced much quicker than anticipated.
"There's really not a whole lot they have to do other than build more of them," Mr Cotton said.
"That this is the second test of this missile and it's the second successful test is pretty surprising.
"Usually when North Korea, or any country, rolls out a new missile system, the first few tests are failures.
The fact that these have all been successful is pretty surprising and shows just how far they've come.dia player:
Video: Footage shows launch of North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) (ABC News)
In terms of moving from advanced testing to successfully carrying a warhead, another issue is whether or not a loaded missile could survive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
Mr Cotton said there was every reason to believe North Korea had the ability to design a missile that could pass through the upper atmosphere without damage to the warhead.
"In March 2016, they tested a heat shield that would go on the end of one of these missiles and protect the warhead and what they did was they took the heat shield and put it under one of their missile engines and just cooked that heat shield," he said.
"Afterwards they released a bunch of pictures of it and showed that it held up just fine.
"We're pretty sure they have the technology to make a re-entry vehicle at this point."AP/ABC