World

North Korea celebrates longest-range ballistic missile test

SEOUL: North Korea yesterday celebrated the launch of what appeared to be its longest-range ballistic missile yet tested in a bid to bring the US mainland within reach.

It said the missile was capable of carrying a "heavy nuclear warhead".

Leader Kim Jong Un personally oversaw the test on Sunday, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, and pictures by state media showed him gazing at the missile in a hangar before the launch.

The missile was launched on an unusually high trajectory, with KCNA saying it flew to an altitude of 2,111.5km and travelled 787km before coming down in the Sea of Japan.

That suggests a range of 4,500km or more if flown for maximum distance, analysts said.

Aside from space launches, Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in the US said, "this is the longest-range missile North Korea has ever tested".

On the 38 North website, aerospace engineering specialist John Schilling said it appeared to demonstrate a ballistic missile that could "reliably strike the US base at Guam" in the Pacific.

"More importantly," he added, it "may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile". - AFP

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