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Japan: North Korea's long-range missile poses new threat level as entire U.S. in range

Japan: North Korea's long-range missile poses new threat level as entire U.S. in range
North Korea's Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile is capable of reaching the East Coast of the United States, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Friday. Photo by KCNA/UPI

SEOUL, March 25 (UPI) -- Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Friday that the Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile launched by North Korea this week represents a "different dimension" of threat from the nuclear-armed state and estimated that it was capable of reaching the entire continental United States.

Pyongyang confirmed Friday that it had tested the massive Hwasong-17 for the first time on Thursday, saying that the missile traveled close to 700 miles and reached an altitude of 3,882 miles on a lofted trajectory, far higher than any previous North Korean ICBM.

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"[The missile] poses a serious threat to the peace and stability of Japan, the region and the international community, which is on a different dimension from its series of launches so far," Kishi said at a news conference Friday.

"It depends on the weight of the warhead, but based on simple calculations, we think that the range can exceed 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles)," he added. "In that case, the entire United States, including the East Coast, is within its range."

RELATED North Korea confirms launch of Hwasong-17, its largest-ever ICBM

Kishi's assessment echoes what many analysts have said since the Hwasong-17 was first unveiled during a military parade in October 2020.

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Japan's military said Thursday that the missile landed in the sea about 93 miles from the northernmost island of Hokkaido inside its exclusive economic zone.

The Hwasong-17 is Pyongyang's first test of an ICBM since November 2017 and the launch ended a self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile launches.

North Korea is using the launch to "unilaterally escalate provocations against the international community, even as the international community is responding to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and it is absolutely unacceptable," Kishi said. "We firmly condemn this unforgivable outrage."

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