Experts of South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense believe that North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday.
“Given such flight characteristics as the altitude, range, speed, duration and also stage separation, North Korea’s Hwasong-14 launched on July 4 belongs to a type of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the experts said in a statement issued after a meeting of a parliamentary committee on defense issues.
The experts consider that Hwasong-14 is a modified version of KN-17 missile (designated by North Korea as Hwasong-12). The key reason to describe Hwasong-14 as an intercontinental ballistic missile is that its flight range reaches more than 5,500 km. The missile was fired from a fixed launch pad.
South Korea’s Defense Minister Han Min-goo warned on Wednesday that Pyongyang may soon carry out a new nuclear test, stressing that North Korea has successfully “miniaturized” nuclear warheads and can install them on ballistic missiles.
“If the North Korean regime continues reckless military provocations, it will face the toughest international sanctions and in the final end will destroy itself,” the minister said. South Korea and the United States are carefully watching Pyongyang’s further steps and are preparing to “give a decisive response to new provocations.”
On Tuesday, North Korea’s television announced the first successful launch of the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile. The missile reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers and flew 933 kilometers within 39 minutes. The missile launch was ordered by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Monday.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the North Korean missile could be a medium-range one, because it rose to the altitude of 535 km, way below the declared 2,802 kilometers, and covered the distance of about 510 kilometers. The US Department of Defense also published similar figures.
North Korea has so far carried out five nuclear tests, including two of them last year.