North Korea said on Tuesday it successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time, which flew a trajectory that experts said could allow a weapon to hit the U.S. state of Alaska.
The launch came days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations were due to discuss steps to rein in North Korea’s weapons program, which it has pursued in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.
The launch, which North Korea’s state media said was ordered and supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, sent the rocket 933 km (580 miles) reaching an altitude of 2,802 km over a flight time of 39 minutes.
North Korea has said it wants to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
To do that it would need an ICBM with a range of 8,000 km (4,800 miles) or more, a warhead small enough to be mounted on it and technology to ensure its stable re-entry into the atmosphere.
Some analysts said the flight details on Tuesday suggested the new missile had a range of more than 8,000 km, underscoring major advances in its program. Other analysts said they believed its range was not so far.
Officials from South Korea, Japan and the United States said the missile landed in the sea in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone after being launched on a high trajectory from near an airfield northwest of the North’s capital, Pyongyang.
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