Trump administration officials rushed into emergency meetings on the Fourth of July to calculate a response to North Korea after the rogue nation said it successfully launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile.
North Korea’s announcement that it set off a missile that could “strike anywhere on Earth” triggered fears worldwide about the communist country’s capabilities for mass destruction.
Officials from the U.S. and other nations initially doubted some of North Korea’s claims about ICBM. But U.S. military analysts later said it would “probable” that North Korea pulled off a two-stage test launch, with one missile soaring more than 550 miles before landing off the Japanese coast.
U.S. military and national security officials scrambled on Tuesday to determine the best response to Kim Jong Un’s latest threat, according to CNN.
Mattis brands North Korea a ‘clear and present danger’
The U.S. also requested a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council for later in the week to discuss North Korea’s expanding military powers.
The Trump administration offered no immediate updates Tuesday on its plans. The previous day, President Trump tweeted that he hoped China would “put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all.”
He also wrote about Kim, “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”
Meanwhile, the Russian and Chinese foreign ministries issued a joint statement calling on North Korea to finally stop its nuclear and missile tests.
Why North Korea’s ICBM missile launch claims are hard to believe
North Korea’s state-run media reported that Kim oversaw the country’s first successful test of an ICBM, which would be the biggest missile yet to be fired by the paranoid nation.
North Korea said the launch was the “final step” in proving that it is a “confident and powerful nuclear state that can strike anywhere on Earth.”
Some analysts weren’t so sure.
U.S. missile scientist David Wright published an analysis that said the missile, based on its reported time and distance, would have a maximum traveling range of 4,160 miles under a standard trajectory.
Dennis Rodman says North Korea trip led to Otto Warmbier’s return
That would be far enough for the missile to hit Alaska. But it by no means backs up North Korea’s claims that it can now hit anywhere in the world.
Officials also questioned if North Korea had the technology to mount a warhead onto any long-range missile. The country has yet to prove that it can.
Kim has ramped up North Korea’s missile tests since Trump took office and started calling on China and South Korea to confront their perilous neighbor. Previous U.S. presidents were rarely so direct in their war of words against Kim.
North Korea’s state media releases reports every few weeks claiming, with little information, that the country has successfully launched shorter-range missiles.
North Korea ‘rejects’ UN sanctions, vows to bolster nuclear force
But there is reason to doubt North Korea has made as much progress as it claims.
The New York Times reported this year that 88% of North Korea’s short-range missile tests have failed. That is about 15 times greater than the failure rate for the few other nations, such as the former Soviet Union, that attempted similar tests.
Former President Barack Obama ordered the Pentagon to sabotage some of North Korea’s tests with cyber attacks, which reportedly accounted for at least some of its failures. It is unclear if Trump has maintained a similar campaign.
Send a Letter to the Editor