WASHINGTON — The United States has confirmed that North Korea has test-launched its third intercontinental ballistic missile. The weapons are possessed by only a handful of countries, including the U.S., Russia, and China. ICBMs are missiles that can travel thousands of miles from one continent to another. Many analysts define an ICBM has having a range in excess of 3,420 miles.
According to North Korea’s announcements about the launch, the Hwasong-15 can be tipped with a “super-large heavy warhead” and is capable of striking anywhere in the U.S. mainland. The North claims it reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometers (2,780 miles) and flew 950 kilometers (600 miles) from its launch site just outside of Pyongyang. It was airborne for 53 minutes before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.
The launch data jibe with what foreign experts observed. U.S. scientist David Wright, a physicist who closely tracks North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, estimates the Hwasong-15 has an estimated range of more than 13,000 kilometers (8,100 miles) if flown on a standard trajectory — putting it within reach of Washington, D.C.
Amid the launch, here’s a look at the US military’s robust nuclear deterrence components:
Graphic via Department of Defense.