Washington (July 28, 2017): The US believes North Korea fired a missile shortly before midnight Japan time, or 11 a.m. ET on Friday, a defense official confirmed to Business Insider — and initial estimates indicate it could be the longest-range missile ever tested by the Hermit Kingdom.
According to details, the United States detected a ballistic missile launch out of North Korea at approximately 10:45 am eastern time on Friday.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Japanese broadcaster NHK that he has received the first report that North Korea again launched a missile and it possibly landed inside the exclusive economic zone.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile launched by North Korea possibly flew for approximately 45 minutes.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff have also confirmed that North Korea fired an unidentified missile.
The Pentagon is still working to assess the type of ballistic missile that was launched — the ongoing assessment from the US intelligence community in recent months has been that North Korea has accelerated its intercontinental range ballistic missile program.
While North Korea had already demonstrated an intercontinental range with the July 4 test of its Hwasong-14 ICBM, the missile launched Friday appeared capable of reaching New York or Washington, DC. Yet as with the previous launch, it is unclear whether North Korea has developed the technology to accurately deliver a nuclear warhead to the US mainland.
The US believes that North Korea will be able to launch a reliable nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by early 2018.
That would be an acceleration of two years from previous estimates that put Pyongyang three to five years from fully developing long-range missile capabilities.
The range of North Korea’s ICBM has been disputed.
As launching an ICBM at full range could easily be interpreted as an act of war, North Korea lofts its missiles on a steep angle. Therefore a missile that flies only a few hundred miles toward Japan can still demonstrate a range of many thousands of miles.