North Korea’s state media has claimed that yesterday’s successful missile test was aimed at proving the nation’s capability of carrying a “large scale heavy nuclear warhead,” quoting leader Kim Jong-un as saying the United States mainland is in “sighting range for strikes.”
The missile flew 787 kilometers, landing between Russia and Japan. The Pentagon insisted that the missile was “not consistent” with an ICBM of the sort capable of traveling far enough to hit the US. Moreover, this is a rare successful test for North Korea, whose missiles have several times exploded during takeoff recently.
The claim of nuclear-capability is of course still a huge deal, however this too isn’t really proven by a missile test launch, as North Korea’s ability to miniaturize their nuclear weapons into a warhead is very much still in doubt, though clearly with tensions soaring in the region it is in their interest to claim they have such retaliatory capabilities.
The missile test comes amid a US push for more sanctions against North Korea, and continued threats of military action over recent weeks. It does, however, come at an inconvenient time for South Korea’s new president, who is trying to build international support for a new diplomatic effort, and is already facing heavy resistance from the US.