After North Korea’s successful missile launch test on Wednesday, South Korea and the United States have been trying to take new actions to reduce the threats of Pyongyang. These countries are expected to begin a five-day military drill, called Vigilant Ace, on Monday.

North Korea’s technological advances in the development of a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped long-range missiles are a growing threat to the world and especially to the continental United States. However, the situation is critical, because Pyongyang stated today that the South Korea-U.S military drill is a provocation and that it might lead to the start of a nuclear war.

“Such drill is a dangerous provocation as it is driving the tension on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war,” the commentary of the state-run newspaper said. “The U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces are so foolish as to run amok with such stealth fighters.”

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North Korea carried out a successful missile launch last Wednesday. Image credit: KCLA

The huge Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile could reach Washington

Last Wednesday, North Korea tested the most powerful of its missiles to date, showing that its technology had impressively advanced. The huge Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile had emerged a lot of questions and worries among the international community. It means that North Korea could achieve its goal of developing an arsenal of nuclear missiles probably by mid-2018.

The Hwasong-15 is a two-stage liquid-fuel missile that is capable of striking targets as far as 13,000 kilometers (8,100 miles), according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry in a report to lawmakers. It is larger than North Korea’s previous ICBM, the Hwasong-14, and designed to deliver bigger warheads. Specifically, it is larger by 2 meters (6.56 feet) and also thicker.

The Hwasong-15’s first stage is powered by a pair of engines, the same that were used in the single-engine first stages of the Hwasong-14. The Korean defense ministry is still working to figure out how the second stage was built.

The Hwasong-15 might be able to deliver a 1,000-kilogram (2,200 pounds) payload to any point of continental United States, according to Michael Elleman, an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He also said North Korea might be about to develop a nuclear warhead that weighs less than 700 kilograms (1,543 pounds).

To the date, North Korea has carried out six nuclear tests. However, they still don’t know if the missile’s warhead can survive atmospheric re-entry, hit a target and detonate properly.

“If low confidence in the missile’s reliability is acceptable, two or three test firings over the next four to six months may be all that is required before Kim Jong Un declares the Hwasong-15 combat ready,” noted Elleman.

Last Wednesday, the missile reached an apogee of 4,475 kilometers (2,780 miles) and flew 950 kilometers (600 miles). It was launched near Pyongyang, and it reached a point near Japan.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, in North Korea. The image was provided by the North Korean Government.

Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump talked about North Korea’s missile launch

Due to the rising threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, President Donald Trump called Thursday South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, to discuss this security issue. The presidents reaffirmed their commitment to continue and deepen sanctions on North Korea in an attempt to discourage their leaders from its nuclear ambitions.

Both countries agreed to start a five-day military drill, called Vigilant Ace, on Monday.  About 12,000 U.S. troops will join South Korean forces, and so will 230 aircraft.

A spokesman for North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, which is an organization whose focus is to reunify North Korea with South Korea, stated that Trump “is running wild” over the situation.

However, North Korea is upset by this drill. It criticized the United States and South Korea for provoking them with this exercise. Pyongyang declared that these states are bringing the countries to the “brink of a nuclear war.”

“The situation clearly proves that the U.S. and the South Korean puppet war maniacs are just aggressors and provocateurs breaking peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the region and that the DPRK was entirely just when it decided to invariably take the path of simultaneously developing the two fronts in order to bolster up its war deterrent in every way,” the spokesman said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

Last Friday North Korea held a massive rally with a firework display to celebrate the success of the missile test last Wednesday. They have confirmed the new missile might hit the U.S. Kin Jong Un seems to be happy with how the whole situation has developed.

He was inspecting a tires factory that builds the tires for a huge vehicle used to transport the Hwasong-15 ICBM. He thanked manufacturers and asked them to raise production to satisfy the needs of the country and improve the defense capabilities.

Source: The Washington Post