North Korea, in defiance of worldwide pressure, test-fired an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile on Tuesday. The U.S military says it tracked the missile, which was launched from a North Korean airfield, for 37 minutes before it landed in the Sea of Japan.
Hasn't the country tested missiles before?
Yes, including at least eight times this year. But those were all short and medium-range missiles. A Pentagon spokesman said the two-stage missile was “not one we’ve seen before” and had a range of more than 3,400 miles. It could hit targets in Alaska and Hawaii but not the contiguous U.S. mainland.
Why is North Korea doing this?
Pyongyang for years has claimed that the U.S., together with South Korea, is engaged in a hostile campaign aimed at overthrowing the North Korean regime. It calls its nuclear and missile program a deterrent to a U.S. attack.
Is the U.S. in danger of an immediate nuclear attack?
No, this was only a test. Officials do not believe the North Koreans have developed the capability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, a critical technology for placing one atop an ICBM. However, officials are worried about North Korea's steadily improving technical capability and apparent determination to deploy such a weapon rapidly.
How did the U.S. react?
President Trump condemned the test and urged China on Twitter to “put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!” Trump also spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and is expected to raise the topic at the G-20 meeting this week in Hamburg. Ramping up the pressure on Wednesday, Trump noted on Twitter that trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. "So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!"
At an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting Wednesday, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley condemned the test as "dangerous and irresponsible." She called for even tighter sanctions against trade with North Korea, but warned that the U.S. was prepared to employ a "full range of counter measures" including use of military force if necessary.
On the military front, the U.S. Army and South Korean military fired surface-to-surface missiles into South Korean waters in a demonstration of capability.
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