North Korea, showing signs of quickly advancing tech, says the entire U.S. is within its missile striking range. Experts disagree.
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The United States confronted North Korea over its latest missile test amid signs that time is running out on efforts to halt the country’s headlong rush to build a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States.
The U.S. flew two B-1 bombers over South Korea Sunday in a show of force
The U.S. conducted a test of its missile-defense system in Alaska and flew two supersonic bombers over South Korea on Sunday in a show of force following North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test on Friday.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced it conducted a test of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) defense system in Alaska by launching a ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean.
The missile was fired by a U.S. Air Force C-17 plane and successfully intercepted by the system, based in Kodiak, Alaska, the MDA said.
“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,” MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said.
In South Korea, U.S. B-1 bombers were escorted by South Korean fighter jets as they flew over an air base near the South Korean capital of Seoul before returning to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.
It said the mission was a response to consecutive ICBM tests by North Korea this month. Analysts say flight data from the North’s second ICBM test showed that a broader part of the mainland United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now in range of Pyongyang’s weapons.
“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” said Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander. “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.”
“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing,” O’Shaughnessy said.
The U.S. has sent B-1 bombers to South Korea for flyovers several times this year in response to the North’s banned missile tests and also following the death of a U.S. college student last month after he was released by North Korea in a coma.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday expressed “great satisfaction” after the Hwasong-14 missile reached a maximum height of 2,314 miles and flew 620 miles before landing in waters off Japan.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the test was aimed at confirming the maximum range and other technical aspects of the missile it says was capable of delivering a “large-sized, heavy nuclear warhead,” according to the Associated Press.
Kim also noted that the rare night launch showed North Korea’s ability to mount a surprise attack.
Contributing: Doug Stanglin; The Associated Press
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