Happy Birthday, America!
The North Korean missile that soared high above the Sea of Japan on Tuesday was hailed by state-run television as a “shining success.” But to U.S. officials, it was a most unwelcome surprise: a weapon with intercontinental range, delivered years before most Western experts believed such a feat possible.
Hours after the apparently successful test, intelligence agencies continued to run calculations to determine precisely how the missile, dubbed the Hwasong-14, performed in its maiden flight. But the consensus among missile experts was that North Korea had achieved a long-sought milestone, demonstrating a capability of striking targets thousands of miles from its coast.
Initial Pentagon assessments said North Korea had tested a “land-based, intermediate-range” missile that landed in the Sea of Japan just under 600 linear miles from its launch point, Panghyon Airfield, near the Chinese border. The State Department later confirmed North Korea had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM. Government and independent analyses showed the missile traveling in a steep arc that topped out at more than 1,740 vertical miles above the Earth’s surface.
If flown in a more typical trajectory, the missile would have easily traveled 4,000 miles, potentially putting all of Alaska within its range, according to former government officials and independent analysts. A missile that exceeds a range of 3,400 miles is classified as an ICBM.
“This is a big deal: It’s an ICBM, not a ‘kind of’ ICBM,’ ” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “And there’s no reason to think that this is going to be the maximum range.”
Anyone with even one ounce of sense in their brains understands that we urgently need to replace our commander in chief. So, let’s get on with it.
This shit is not a reality show.