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North Korea 2nd ICBM test puts much of US in range: experts

PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea on Friday test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew longer and higher than the first, according to its wary neighbors, leading analysts to conclude that a wide swath of the United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now within range of Pyongyang’s weapons.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the missile, launched late Friday night, flew for about 45 minutes — about five minutes longer than the ICBM North Korea test-fired on July 4. The missile was launched on very high trajectory, which limited the distance it traveled, and landed west of Japan’s island of Hokkaido.


‘‘We assess that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, as had been expected,’’ Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said in Washington.

Analysts had estimated that the North’s first ICBM could have reached Alaska, and said Friday that the latest missile appeared to extend that range significantly.

David Wright, a physicist and codirector of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in Washington that if reports of the missile’s maximum altitude and flight time are correct, it would have a theoretical range of at least about 6,500 miles. That means it could have reached Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago, depending on variables such as the size and weight of the warhead that would be carried atop such a missile in an actual attack.

Bruce Klingner, a Korean and Japanese affairs specialist at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, said, ‘‘It now appears that a significant portion of the continental United States is within range’’ of North Korean missiles. Klingner recently met with North Korean officials to discuss denuclearization, the think tank said.

Washington and its allies have watched with growing concern as Pyongyang has made significant progress toward its goal of having all of the United States within range of its missiles to counter what it labels as US aggression. There are other hurdles, including building nuclear warheads to fit on those missiles and ensuring reliability. But many analysts have been surprised by how quickly leader Kim Jong Un has developed North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs despite several rounds of UN Security Council sanctions that have squeezed the impoverished country’s economy.


President Trump has said he will not allow North Korea to obtain an ICBM that can deliver a nuclear warhead. But this week, the Defense Intelligence Agency reportedly concluded that the North will have a reliable ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear weapon as early as next year, in an assessment that trimmed two years from the agency’s earlier estimate.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan called the launch a ‘‘serious and real threat’’ to the country’s security.

Suga, the Japanese spokesman, said Japan has lodged a strong protest with North Korea.

‘‘North Korea’s repeated provocative acts absolutely cannot be accepted,’’ he said.

A spokesman for General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that Dunford met at the Pentagon with the commander of US forces in the Pacific, Admiral Harry Harris, to discuss US military options in light of North Korea’s missile test.

The spokesman, Navy Captain Greg Hicks, said Dunford and Harris placed a phone call to Dunford’s South Korean counterpart, General Lee Sun Jin. Dunford and Harris ‘‘expressed the ironclad commitment to the US-Republic of Korea alliance,’’ Hicks said, referring to the US defense treaty that obliges the United States to defend South Korea.


Abe said Japan would cooperate closely with the United States, South Korea, and other nations to step up pressure on North Korea to halt its missile programs.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile appeared to be more advanced than the ICBM North Korea previously launched.

The ‘‘Hwasong 14’’ ICBM test-fired earlier this month was also launched at a very steep angle, a technique called lofting, and splashed down in the ocean 580 miles away. Analysts said that missile could be capable of reaching most of Alaska or possibly Hawaii if fired in an attacking trajectory.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched from North Korea’s northern Jagang province near the border with China.