Hwasong-15: North Korea tests most powerful ICBM
North Korea successfully launched Hwasong-15, a new type of nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It is North Korea’s most powerful ICBM that can reach entire eastern US seaboard and Washington.
The ICBM was launched from near Pyongyang and had reached height of 4,475 km and traveled 950 km before it accurately hitting a sea target. It landed inside of Japan’s economic exclusion zone (EEZ) in Sea of Japan, about 250 km west of Aomori, which is on northern part of Japan’s main island of Honshu.
North Korea claims that Hwasong-15 ICBM is ‘significantly more’ powerful than previous missiles. It is upgraded version of Hwasong-14 ICBM. It is North Korea’s ‘greatest ICBM’ that could be armed with ‘super-large heavy nuclear warhead’. It is the first ballistic missile developed by North Korea that is theoretically capable of reaching United States mainland (including Washington DC). Based on its trajectory and distance during the test, the missile has range of more than 13,000 km which covers all of Earth’s continents, except South America and Antarctica.
According to experts, the latest test suggests that progress has been made by North Korea in developing a weapon of mass destruction (WMDs) that could likely strike the US mainland. Hwasong-15 missile is upgraded version of its old ICBM with an enhanced second-stage.
Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
ICBM is missile launched by land-based system that is intended to carry nuclear payloads. To qualify as an ICBM, the missile must have minimum range of 5,500km. The most significant difference between ICBM and other ballistic missiles is its greater range and speed. It enables countries to strike exceptionally distant targets with minimum warning.