Smart Chart: Tracking North Korea’s Missile Program
North Korea fired its latest missile over Japan on Friday. It traveled 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles), putting the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam — and its key military bases — within reach. It’s also believed to be the longest distance covered by a North Korean missile, after the frequency of tests has increased in recent years.
This show of force — just half a month after North Korea reportedly fired the same model of Hwasong-12 ballistic missile — has rattled the U.S. government.
On Tuesday, at his first appearance at the U.N. General Assembly, U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” if the U.S. is forced to take action.
“ ‘Rocket Man’ is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
In response, a North Korean diplomat said on Thursday that the country will test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific. This followed Kim’s remarks that Trump will “pay dearly” for threatening to destroy North Korea, according to CNN.
Since 1984, North Korea has attempted to launch more than 120 ballistic missiles, and 93 missions have been successful. In most tests, the rockets landed in the Sea of Japan between North Korea and Japan. But the two most recent tests have seen the missiles fly over Japan and hit the Pacific.
Since 2012, the number and frequency of North Korea’s missile tests have increased. It launched a record 25 missiles in 2014. In the first nine months of this year, it has launched 19. With the introduction of the new models Hwasong-12, Hwasong-14 and Polaris-2, the missiles tested this year have been flying higher and longer than during previous trials.
According to an estimate by the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies, North Korea’s missiles are capable of hitting targets that are over 8,000 kilometers away and reach most of the U.S. mainland. Some of the missiles are also capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
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