Tag: North Korea

Stratcom Commander Describes Challenges of 21st-Century Deterrence

Strategic deterrence starts with nuclear capabilities because nuclear war always has been an existential threat to the nation, but deterrence in the 21st century presents new challenges and requires the integration of all capabilities, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said during a recent interview with DoD News at his command’s Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, headquarters.  

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said his three priorities for Stratcom are simple: one, above all else provide a strategic deterrent; two, if deterrence fails provide a decisive response; and three, respond with a combat-ready force.

But unlike in past decades, the 21st century presents more than one adversary and more than one domain, he said.

“It’s now a multipolar problem with many nations that have nuclear weapons, … and it’s also multidomain. … We have adversaries that are looking at integrating nuclear, conventional, space and cyber, all as part of a strategic deterrent. We have to think about strategic deterrence in the same way,” Hyten said.

The vision for Stratcom, he added, is to integrate all capabilities — nuclear, space, cyberspace, missile defense, global strike, electronic warfare, intelligence, targeting, analysis — so they can be brought to bear in a single decisive response if the nation is threatened.

“We can’t [assume] that having 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons under the New START Treaty somehow deters all our adversaries. It doesn’t,” the general said. “We have to think about all the domains, all the adversaries, all the capabilities, and focus our attention across the board on all of those.”

Modernization

Modernization is critical to the future of the U.S. deterrent capability, Hyten said, because all elements of the nuclear triad — bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines — will reach a point within about 15 years at which they’re no longer viable.

“They are viable today. They are safe, secure, reliable, ready, [and] they can do all the missions they need to do today,” he said. “But in the not-too-distant future, that won’t be the case. Sadly, we’ve delayed the modernization of those programs really too long. And now if you lay all the modernization programs out on a single table and you look at when they all deliver, they all deliver just in time.”

The next intercontinental ballistic missile delivers just in time to replace the Minuteman, and the Columbia nuclear submarine delivers just in time to replace the Ohio-class sub, he added.

“Any one-year delay in Columbia means the future Stratcom commander is going to be down one submarine. And any future delay in the ICBM means we’re going to be down a certain number of ICBMs,” Hyten said.

It’s the same with the nation’s B-52 and B-2 bombers, the general said. The B-52 is an old but amazing weapon delivery platform that will have no penetration capability because of evolving penetration profiles. The B-2 is aging out and must be replaced by the B-21. The B-21 will come along just in time to provide the bomber capabilities the nation needs, he added.

“I don’t want a future Stratcom commander to ever face a day where we don’t have a safe, secure, ready and reliable nuclear deterrent,” he said. “It has to be there.”

Extended Deterrence

Extended deterrence is another critical job for Stratcom, Hyten said, noting that assurance is one of the most important things the command does for U.S. allies.

“When you look at our allies like the Republic of Korea or Japan, we have capabilities here that provide an extended deterrent for those two allies and a number of other allies around the world,” he said. “It’s important that the United States always assure them that we will be there with the capabilities that we have if they’re ever attacked with nuclear capabilities. That’s what extended deterrence means.”

Assurance can come through demonstrations, partnerships and exercises, he noted.

“There is a challenge right now with North Korea, and it’s very important for the Republic of Korea and for Japan to know that we will be there. And we will be,” he said.

The Pentagon considers North Korean mobile ballistic missiles a top threat

Stratcom’s Strength

Stratcom’s strength lies with the 184,000 people who show up and do Stratcom business every day, Hyten said.

“The best part of being a commander is actually seeing the young men and women who do this mission every day,” the general said. “The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines sign up to do some of the most difficult jobs that our country has, and man, they do it, they love it and they’re good at it.”

Hyten said he can’t emphasize the importance of Stratcom’s people enough. “Sometimes it brings tears to your eyes when you see the quality of the people who come, who raise their hand and want to come and serve our country,” he added.

The general said he loves the fact that Stratcom’s people raise their hands and swear an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, an ideal written down on a piece of paper more than 200 years ago. That ideal still is what drives men and women of the nation to want to serve, he added.

“The people of this command take that very seriously,” Hyten said, “and they are just remarkable in what they do.”

 

Guam, Japan prepare for possible North Korea missile launch

SANTA RITA, Guam. An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam. Naval Base Guam supports the U.S. Pacific Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Hagatña, Guam (CNN) North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the US-territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said the plan to fire “four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets … to signal a crucial warning to the US” would be ready by “mid-August.”

Recent days have seen a significant escalation of tensions in the region as preparations are put in place for a possible launch in Guam, Japan and South Korea.

A notice put out by Guam’s Joint Information Center Saturday warned residents how to prepare “for an imminent missile threat.”

“Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the note said. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”

Guam’s Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.

Japan missile defense deployed

On Saturday, some of Japan’s land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors began arriving at Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) bases in three of the four prefectures any North Korean missiles would likely fly over en route to Guam.

Pyongyang identified three of those areas — Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures — in its statement last week.

A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather “just in case.” He did not elaborate.

Sim Tack, a senior analyst for private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Japanese batteries are designed for protecting the area where they are deployed, “(they are) not meant to shoot missiles out of the sky as they pass over Japan at high altitude.”

“So unless those North Korean missiles were to fall short, the Patriots shouldn’t have a function to serve in this particular case,” he said.
Japanese Ballistic Missile Defense Scenario

The SDF spokesman said the country’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system was deployed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, but would not give a specific location.

Aegis is able to track 100 missiles simultaneously and fire interceptors to take out an enemy’s ballistic projectiles.

In South Korea, where both the military and civilians are used to facing threats from North Korea, Defense Minister Song Young-moo warned the country’s armed forces “to maintain full readiness” to “immediately punish with powerful force” any action against the South.

“Recently, North Korea made its habitual absurd remarks that it will turn Seoul into a sea of fire and that it will strike near Guam,” Song said according to ministry official. “North Korea raising tension (on the Peninsula) is a serious challenge against the South Korean-US alliance and the international community.”

Meanwhile, US-South Korean joint military exercises are due to begin later this month. The annual exercises, called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, are expected to run from August 21 to 31.

Calls for calm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled down on his statement that he would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang continued its threats, saying in a tweet that “military solutions” were “locked and loaded” for use against North Korea.

According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi told Trump in a call between the two leaders Saturday all “relevant parties parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described escalation as “the wrong answer,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump’s statements were “very worrying.”

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticized Trump’s “fire and fury” comments as “not helpful in an environment that’s very tense.”

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the international community to work with North Korea to “resume the path of dialogue without conditions,” following a call with Trump Saturday.

Washington has previously said it will consider talks with Pyongyang if it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program, a pre-condition North Korean officials have described as a non-starter.

Guam waits for news

At a church in central Guam Sunday, parishioners sang “Lord, we pray for world peace” after discussing the potential North Korean threat.

“There’s a lot of disbelief going on, there’s a lot of anxiety,” Father Paul Gofigan told CNN after the mass.

Gofigan said there is not a lot of panic in Guam, and that people’s faith — the island has been overwhelmingly Catholic since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 17th century– has been on display in recent days.

“Faith is so deeply rooted into our culture,” he said.

The territory’s governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, said he spoke with Trump and the President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, on Saturday.

“Both assured me that the people of Guam are safe,” Calvo wrote on Facebook. “In the President’s words they are behind us ‘1,000 percent.’ As the head of the Government of Guam, I appreciate their reassurances that my family, my friends, everyone on this island, are all safe.”

As an unincorporated US territory, citizens of Guam cannot vote in general elections. The island is also home to a large US military presence, a fact that has led to tension with some local residents, particularly those of the indigenous Chamorro community.

“Nobody really deserves to be caught in the middle of these games,” said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, an activist who campaigns for a lowered military presence.

“You’re playing with people’s lives. We just want peace, we just want to continue to enjoy our lives here.”

 

North Korea threatens missile strike on Guam that will create an ‘enveloping fire’

North Korea said it is “carefully examining” plans to attack Guam with medium- to long-range ballistic missiles, state-run media reported Wednesday.

The rogue nation’s statement follows President Donald Trump‘s comments hours before, during which he warned North Korea that any threats to the U.S. “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”

The North Korean army made the announcement in a statement distributed by its state-run news agency that the military is reviewing a plan to create an “enveloping fire” in areas around the U.S. territory, located in the Pacific Ocean about 2,100 miles from North Korea.

The statement said the decision to review such plans is in response to a recent ICBM test.

There are 7,000 US military personnel on Guam.

The main base on the island is Andersen Air Force Base that is home to long-range B-1 bombers that have recently been used for “show of force” missions to South Korea following North Korea’s two ICBM missile launches.

A pair of B-1B Strategic Bombers based in Guam

Andersen Air Force Base is just one of the installations on Guam; Naval Base Guam also has a significant number of personnel.

Guam’s offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense said in a statement that its threat level remained unchanged, and that it will “continue to monitor the recent events surrounding North Korea and their threatening actions.”

Homeland Security adviser George Charfauros said in a statement, “As of this morning, we have not changed our stance in confidence that the U.S. Department of Defense is monitoring this situation very closely and is maintaining a condition of readiness, daily. We will continue to keep the public updated on any changes or requests for action. For now, we advise the community to remain calm, remember that there are defenses in place for threats such as North Korea and to continue to remain prepared for all hazards.”

Charfauros is in regular contact with the federal Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. He has not received any guidance that there is an imminent threat, Guam Homeland Security said.

Still, the speaker of the Guam Legislature told The Associated Press he hopes the island can defend itself in the event of a North Korean attack.

“We’re just praying that the United States and the … defense system we have here is sufficient enough to protect us,” Benjamin J. Cruz said.

Cruz said the threat is “very disconcerting,” adding, “It forces us to pause and to say a prayer for the safety of our people.”

Guam’s governor, Eddie Calvo, released a two-minute video message to the island’s residents, in which he said, “I want to ensure that we are prepared for any eventuality.”

 

 

 

 

Disagreements between Russia, US did not affect work on North Korea resolution – Nebenzya

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya. Credit: Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

THE UNITED NATIONS, August 6. /TASS/.

Russia and the United States are not hostages to bilateral relations experiencing the challenging period and can jointly work on matters of global importance like the resolution concerning North Korea, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said at the UN Security Council session on Saturday.

“As I have already said, we are working together on resolution of issues important for the international community. This is one of them. We are not hostages to our relations when we need to jointly work on matters that are much more important than our bilateral relations,” the Russian diplomat said.

The UN Security Council’s 15 members, including Russia and China, unanimously backed fresh sanctions against North Korea over the country’s recent missile tests. Resolution 2371 bans North Korean exports of minerals and other raw materials and goods, including coal, iron, lead and seafood.

The resolution envisions restrictions against 13 individuals and companies linked to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

 

 

Selva Stresses Urgency of Delivering Columbia Class On Time

Navy Increases Design Support for its New Fleet of Nuclear-Armed “Columbia- Class” Submarines

The nation’s second highest military officer is worried about the defense industry’s ability to deliver the critical components of the nuclear deterrent modernization on time, specifically warning that the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) are scheduled to sail until “the absolute end of their service life.”

“There is no slack in our ability to deliver the Columbia class” submarines that are to replace the Ohio-class SSBNs, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Aug. 3.
“If we don’t replace the Ohio class with Columbia, we won’t have a sea-based deterrent,” Selva told a Mitchell Institute breakfast on nuclear deterrence.

The Navy already has extended the service life of the 14 Ohio subs to 40 years, and plans to begin building the first of 12 Columbia-class boomers by 2021 and have it in service by 2029. But Navy officials have warned that if the Ohios are not replaced on time, their hulls may be unable to take the pressure of operating at their normal depth.

A May report by the Congressional Research Service projected that even if the first Columbia is operational in 2029, the SSBN fleet will have dropped to 12 because the three oldest Ohio-class boats will have been decommissioned. The long-range plan for 12 Columbia SSBNs is based on the expectation that the new submarines will not have to be taken out of service for maintenance and upgrades as often, allowing 10 operational boomers at all times.

The nuclear deterrent Triad includes an air leg, currently consisting of B-52s, some of which are nearly 50 years old, and the 19 newer B-2s; and a ground-based leg of 400 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The Air Force is pushing development of the B-21 Raider to replace the B-52s and a new ICBM to replace the Minuteman missiles.

Selva said there was “no alternative” to replacing the current nuclear deterrent Triad because “nuclear weapons pose the only existential threat to the United States.” That is why, maintaining and modernizing the Triad is “the most important mission of the Defense Department,” he said.

Selva emphasized that the program was to replace, not modernize, the Triad. He noted that an essential part of the replacement program was the nuclear command and control network, which has components that include 1950s vacuum tubes.

In describing the threat that the nuclear deterrent Triad must counter, Selva listed Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, noting that Iran is the only one that does not have nuclear weapons, which he attributed to the multinational agreement that has frozen Tehran’s program.

Asked about the threat from North Korea, which has staged multiple tests of nuclear devices with increasing power, and in July conducted two tests of ballistic missiles that may have the range to hit the United States, Selva said “before we can assume that North Korea has the ability to strike the United States with a nuclear weapon,” it would have to demonstrate four capabilities.

The Pentagon believes North Korea has a missile with adequate range, does not believe it has a missile with the guidance, control and stability to deliver a warhead without breaking up; does not know if it has a re-entry vehicle that can survive the heat and pressure; and does not know if it has a warhead that can survive re-entry.

Independent analysts have reported that in the last ICBM test, which appeared to have the range to hit the United States, the re-entry vehicle apparently broke up before reaching the surface.

But, Selva added, he could not rule out North Korea correcting those problems because people can learn “some interesting things if they are willing to fail.” And North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un “is willing to fail.”

Senator McCain says he is not surprised by expulsion of US diplomats from Russia

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

US Republican Senator John McCain is not surprised by Moscow’s decision to send hundreds of US diplomats from Russia after the US Congress adopted a bill providing for further tightening of the regime of unilateral sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

“Not surprising Putin throws out US diplomats, but he & his cronies will still pay price for attacking our democracy,” the senator wrote on Twitter.

McCain is one of those senators who are most critical of Russia. The lawmaker repeatedly called for new anti-Russian sanctions.

On July 28, the Russian Foreign Ministry proposed the US party to “equal the number of diplomatic and technical staff members working in the US Embassy in Moscow and in consulates general in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok to the exact number of Russian diplomats and technical staff members who are working in the US before September 1.” “This means that the total number of staff working in US diplomatic and consulate entities in Russia will be reduced to 455 people,” the ministry said in a statement. “In case the US authorities take new unilateral actions to reduce the number of our diplomats in the US, it will be responded in kind.”

In addition to that, Russia is suspending the use of the warehouses and the property in Serebryany Bor in Moscow by the US Embassy as of August 1.

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted in an interview with VGTRK host Vladimir Solovyov that a total of 755 US diplomats are to leave Russia.

Alaska-based THAAD system intercepts target missile over Pacific

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, during Flight Test.

A medium-range ballistic missile was intercepted over the Pacific Ocean early Sunday during a test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, the Missile Defense Agency said.

The target missile, air-launched by an Air Force C-17, was detected, tracked and intercepted by a THAAD battery at Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, an MDA statement said. It didn’t specify exactly where the missile was stopped.

Soldiers from the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade out of Fort Bliss, Texas, conducted launcher, fire-control and radar operations using the same procedures they would use in a real-world scenario, the statement said. The team was not aware of when the target missile would be launched.

“In addition to successfully intercepting the target, the data collected will allow MDA to enhance the THAAD weapon system, our modeling and simulation capabilities, and our ability to stay ahead of the evolving threat,” Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, MDA’s director, said in the statement.

The exercise comes not long after North Korea test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile this month. The ICBM launched late Friday splashed down into the Sea of Japan about 620 miles east of the launch site in the country’s far northwest, a Pentagon statement said.

The U.S. military, which detected and tracked the missile throughout its flight, determined it posed no threat to North America.

Source: Stars and Stripes.

US sends pair of supersonic bombers in show of force after second ICBM test

Two Guam-based Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, fly over the Korean Peninsula, Sunday, July 30, 2017. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO.

TOKYO — Two Air Force supersonic bombers flew low over the Korean Peninsula Sunday in a show of force after North Korea test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile.

The exercise — part of a 10-hour mission with South Korean and Japanese fighter jets — was “in direct response to North Korea’s escalatory launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” a Pacific Air Forces statement said.

A suspected Hwasong-14 missile — the second ICBM North Korea has tested successfully so far this month — was fired late Friday from Mupyong-ni in the country’s far northwest and splashed down into the Sea of Japan about 620 miles east of the launch site, a Pentagon statement said.

The Guam-based B-1B Lancers first flew into Japanese airspace and were joined by two Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 fighter jets, the statement said. The bombers then flew over the Korean Peninsula and were met by four South Korean F-15s. After a low pass over Osan Air Base, the pair returned to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The aircrews took part in “intercept and formation” training throughout the mission, the statement said.
A similar drill took place after North Korea launched its first ICBM on July 4, though that one involved the Lancers firing inert weapons at a range in South Korea.

The Air Force said the missions show solidarity with its allies South Korea and Japan, where the U.S. has a combined force of about 80,000 servicemembers.

“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, said in the statement. “Diplomacy remains the lead; however, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario.”

Source: Stars and Stripes.

South Korea to Deploy 4 More Anti-missile Units

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, during Flight Test THAAD, July 11, 2017.

South Korea said Saturday it will proceed with the deployment of four additional units of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense system after North Korea’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The deployment of the additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defenae (THAAD) units had been delayed after the initial two units, after South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered an environmental assessment.

China has been notified of the move to speed up the deployment, the South’s presidential Blue House said.

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed serious concern Saturday about South Korea decision to proceed with the deployment of the additional units.

The deployment will not resolve South Korea’s security concerns and will only make things more complex, the ministry said, reiterating a Chinese call for the system to be withdrawn.

North Korea said earlier Saturday it had conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that proved its ability to strike all of America’s mainland.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is an American anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase by intercepting with a hit-to-kill approach. THAAD was developed after the experience of Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991. The THAAD interceptor carries no warhead, but relies on its kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate upon a kinetic energy hit.

Originally a United States Army program, THAAD has come under the umbrella of the Missile Defense Agency. The Navy has a similar program, the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which now has a land component as well (“Aegis ashore”). THAAD was originally scheduled for deployment in 2012, but initial deployment took place in May 2008. THAAD has been deployed in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and South Korea.

The THAAD system is being designed, built, and integrated by Lockheed Martin Space Systems acting as prime contractor. Key subcontractors include Raytheon, Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Honeywell, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense, MiltonCAT and the Oliver Capital Consortium.

On 6 March 2017, two THAAD launcher trucks arrived by air transport at Osan Air Base South Korea, for a deployment. Earlier that day, North Korea had launched 4 missiles. A Reuters article stated that with the THAAD defense system, a North Korean missile barrage would still pose a threat to South Korea, while an article in the International Journal of Space Politics & Policy said that South Korean forces already possess Patriot systems for point defense and Aegis destroyers capable of stopping ballistic missiles that may come from the north, in a three-layer antimissile defense for South Korea. On 16 March 2017, a THAAD radar arrived in South Korea. The THAAD system is kept at Osan Air Base until the site where the system is due to be deployed is prepared, with an expected ready date of June 2017. Osan Air Base has blast-hardened command posts with 3 levels of blast doors.

By 25 April 2017, six trailers carrying the THAAD radar, interceptor launchers, communications, and support equipment entered the Seongju site. On 30 April 2017, it was reported that South Korea would bear the cost of the land and facilities for THAAD, while the US will pay for operating it. On 2 May 2017, Moon Sang-gyun, with the South Korean Defense Ministry and Col. Robert Manning III, a spokesman for the U.S. military announced that the THAAD system in Seongju is operational and “has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend South Korea.” It was reported that the system will not reach its full operational potential until later this year when additional elements of the system are onsite. In June 2017 South Korea decided to halt further deployment. The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States) has integrated THAAD into its layered defense on the Korean Peninsula.

Even in the face of a North Korean ICBM test on 4 July 2017, which newly threatens Alaska, a Kodiak, Alaska-based THAAD interceptor test (FTT-18) against a simulated attack by an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile had long been planned. FTT-18 was successfully completed by Battery A-2 THAAD (Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States) on 11 July 2017. The soldiers used the procedures of an actual combat scenario and were not aware of the IRBM’s launch time.

Also in 2017 another Kodiak launch of a THAAD interceptor is scheduled between 7:30PM and 1:30AM on Saturday 29 July, Sunday 30 July, or Monday 31 July, at alternative times. North Korea is apparently positioning launch equipment in Kusong in preparation for a 27 July holiday. Lee Jong-kul, of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s Minjoo Party states “The nuclear and missile capabilities of North Korea…have been upgraded to pose serious threats; the international cooperation system to keep the North in check has been nullified..”, citing tensions over the U.S. deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in South Korea.

Source: Voice of America News.

Which US cities could North Korea’s ballistic missile hit?

 

The US believes North Korea fired a missile shortly before midnight Japan time, or 11 a.m. ET on Friday, a defense official confirmed to Business Insider.

Kim, announcing the second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, said it demonstrated that North Korea could launch “at any place and time.” The KCNA also quoted him as saying that “the test confirmed all the US mainland is within our striking range.”

But should these claims be taken seriously? Can North Korean ICBMs really strike any target in the US? After all, North Korean leaders are known for exaggerating their nuclear and missile program achievements.

Read: What is an intercontinental ballistic missile?

Standard trajectory and altitude

But it seems that Pyongyang is not entirely incorrect about its ICMB claims.

Military analysts say the latest North Korean ballistic missile appeared to have a range of around 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles), which would put the US mainland within its reach.

“Based on current information, today’s missile test by North Korea could easily reach the US West Coast, and a number of major US cities,” arms expert David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists said on his blog.

Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago appear to be well within range of the ICBM, which may also be capable of hitting Boston and New York, Wright said.

North Korean officials said the latest missile had flown for 47 minutes and reached an altitude of more than 3,700 kilometers. On a standard trajectory, the missile would have a range of 10,400 kilometers.

*It is reported that the ‘Taepodong 2’ ICBM has been tested.

 

Earth’s rotation boosts range

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, North Korea launched its missile on high trajectory to allow it to fall in the Sea of Japan, rather then flying over Japan. However, it was still possible to make the calculation about the range.

If fired eastward, the rotation of the Earth could also increase the range of the missile, meaning the missiles have different ranges depending on the direction they are fired in.

Los Angeles is at a distance of 9,500 kilometers from North Korea, and the calculated range of the missile toward the city is 11,700 kilometers, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. If fired in the direction of Boston, the missile range would be 10,750 – still just about enough to reach the city.

New York would also be roughly in range, but Washington DC would probably be just outside the strike area.

The organization stressed that the missile range also depends on the mass of the payload it carries. A heavier payload than that used in the test flight might mean the range would be reduced.

Source: DW.

North Korea fires ballistic missile toward Japan

North Korea fired a ballistic missile Friday night that may have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tells reporters that he had called a meeting of his National Security Council, the Associated Press reports.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says North Korea launched the missile at 11:42 PM on Friday, Japan’s national public broadcaster NHK reports.

Suga says the missile is believed to have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone 45 minutes after launch.

The zone extends about 230 miles from Japan’s coast.

In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, confirmed that a launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea had been detected.

He said, “We are assessing and will have more information soon.”

Japanese government sources tell NHK that warnings were issued to vessels in the zone shortly after the launch was detected.

Source: USA Today.