Tensions are rising on the Korean Peninsula, as North Korea confirms it successfully tested it’s farthest flying ballistic missile that has the power to reach the United States. The missile has the potential range of four-thousand miles, which means it could hit Alaska, but experts say the chances of it hitting anywhere else in the United States is unlikely at this point. Still, U.S. officials are on very high alert.
The United States army and the South Korean military conducted a combined exercise, firing missiles into the waters off South Korea. That’s after North Korea’s launch of what is believed to be an international ballistic missile. The United States is condemning the launch. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the test “represents a new escalation of the threat” and “global action is required to stop a global threat.” The South Korean military estimates the missile traveled about 580 miles, and according to the U.S. it flew for 37 minutes. Experts calculate the missile could have a maximum range of roughly 4,160 miles- that’s long enough to reach Alaska, but not the rest of the United States.
Matthew Kroenig with the Georgetown Department of Government & School of Foreign Service said, “It’s not much further than that for the 10,000 miles or so for it to reach New York or Washington, D.C.”
The launch comes as North Korea also continues to pursue the development of a nuclear warhead.
Admiral Harry Harris, Commander, US Pacific Command said, “Combining nuclear warheads with ballistic missile technology in the hands of Kim Jong-Un is a recipe for disaster.”
Top officials from the state department, the Pentagon and the White House held meetings during the July 4th holiday. President Trump has reportedly warned China the U.S. will act on its own if Beijing doesn’t tighten economic pressure on North Korea, while the UN Security Council will meet Wednesday in response to North Korea’s missile launch.
Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell said, “There’s very little you can do except sanction him every time he does something and build our missile defenses.”
The Russian and Chinese presidents offered up a solution at their meeting in Moscow, announcing they’ll work together to try to freeze the North Korean program.
China has been unwilling to entirely cut off crude oil supplies to North Korea, because that would likely cause the North Korean regime to collapse.
China fears that would leave Kim Jong Un with nothing to lose, which could start a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.