Published: Wed, August 02, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

USA set to test launch ICBM amid tensions with North Korea

USA set to test launch ICBM amid tensions with North Korea

Less than a week after North Korea's record setting intercontinental ballistic missile test, the U.S. Air Force plans to conduct an ICBM test of its own early Wednesday morning.

"(North Korea's missile tests) don't interfere in any way with Air France's flight paths", the airline said in a statement. The missiles will cross the Pacific, aimed at Kwajalein Atoll, some 6,800 km away.

US and South Korean experts on Tuesday said Japanese video footage capturing the Hwasong-14's re-entry vehicle shortly before it crashed into the sea suggests it failed to survive the extreme heat and pressure after re-entering the Earth's atmosphere following its launch from northern North Korea on Friday.

The test would be the fourth ICBM launched from the Santa Barbara County base this year.

"It is fair to say that North Korea has already secured re-entry technology for nuclear warheads", said Kim Young-woo of the minor opposition Bareun Party, who serves as a chairman of the National Assembly' national defence committee.

After analyzing video from a rooftop camera operated by Japan's NHK television on the northern island of Hokkaido, U.S. missile expert Michael Elleman concluded that Hwasong-14's re-entry vehicle "disintegrated" before it landed at sea. Analysis of the two tests' data suggests that most of the United States is in range of the DPRK's missiles, including major cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago.

Members of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, which is located at Vandenberg, installed tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile for the test.

"This missile flew through busy airspace used by commercial airliners", said Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis after North Korea's July 4 ICBM test.

In theory, it is thought the USA and North Korea - which are around 8,000km apart - could strike each other with an ICBM.

Granted, it's impossible to know how the warhead would have performed if North Korea had launched the missile for real. If thousands die they're going to die over there.

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