North Korea Launches Most Powerful Missile Yet, Which Experts Say Puts U.S. in Range

SEOUL, South Korea — After 2 1/2 months of relative peace, North Korea launched its most powerful weapon yet early Wednesday, claiming a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that some observers believe could put Washington and the entire eastern U.S. seaboard within range.The North said in a special televised announcement hours after the launch that it had successfully fired what it called the Hwasong-15, a new nuclear-capable ICBM that's "significantly more" powerful than the North's previously tested long-range weapon. Outside governments and analysts backed up the North's claim to a jump in missile capability.A resumption of Pyongyang's torrid testing pace in pursuit of its goal of a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles that can hit the U.S. mainland had been widely expected, but the apparent power and suddenness of the new test still jolted the Korean Peninsula and Washington. The launch at 3:17 a.m. local time and midday in the U.S. capital indicated an effort to perfect the element of surprise and to obtain maximum attention in the United States.The firing is a clear message of defiance aimed at the Trump administration, which had just restored the North to a U.S. list of terror sponsors. It also ruins nascent diplomatic efforts, raises fears of war or a pre-emptive U.S. strike and casts a deeper shadow over the security of the Winter Olympics early next year in South Korea.A rattled Seoul responded by almost immediately launching three of its own missiles in a show of force. The South's president, Moon Jae-in, expressed worry that North Korea's growing missile threat could force the United States to attack the North before it masters a nuclear-tipped long-range missile, something experts say may be imminent.  Continue reading...

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