North Korea may have just shown a capability to strike California

Military Times reports: North Korea launched another ballistic missile Friday morning and experts believe it may have been, for the first time, an intercontinental ballistic missile with the capability to strike the continental United States.

Analysts raised concerns — with the caveat that preliminary reports could change — that this test could represent yet another step forward for North Korea’s nuclear posture.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis did not immediately have details on the launch, such as whether it was an intercontinental or intermediate range missile, and whether the missile had yet splashed down.

“The U.S. Department of Defense detected and tracked a single North Korea missile launch today at about 10:41 a.m. [Eastern Daylight Time,]” said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, reading the departments official statement on the launch. “We assess that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, as had been expected.”

Davis said the missile was launched at 10:41 am local Washington time Friday from Mupyong-ni, and said it traveled “about 1,000 kilometers before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.”

Mupyong-ni “is an arms plant up in the far north of North Korea, north of Pyongyang,” Davis said. The missile “splashed down inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, about 88 nautical miles from Hokkaido,” Davis told reporters at the Pentagon.

“We’re working with our interagency partners for a more detailed assessment,” he said.

NORAD assessed the launch and “determined it was not a threat to North America,” Davis said

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told Defense News that the decision to do a night launch from a new location “demonstrates that we can’t preempt them” from future launches.

Most worryingly, Lewis noted the reported 45 minute flight time of the missile and other data, which would “be consistent” with longer-range estimates of the weapon’s capabilities — perhaps putting its range in the 10,000 KM range — distance enough to put California and other continental U.S. locations at risk. [Continue reading…]

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