On the eve of a summit in Beijing, and just hours after Pyongyang’s chief nuclear negotiator said North Korea is ready to hold talks with the United States „if the conditions are mature”, South Korea’s Yonhap reports that North Korea has fired one projectile, believed to be a ballistic missile from a region north of Pyongyang.
Coming just hours after The South China Morning Post reports Choe Son-hui, head of the North Korea’s Foreign Ministry’s North America bureau, offered the assurance in the Chinese capital after an informal meeting in Norway with Thomas Pickering, a former US ambassador to the United Nations.
North Korea launched a missile in a test early in the morning of May 14, North Korean time. If the information that has been reported about the test are correct, the missile has considerably longer range than its current missiles.
Reports from Japan say that the missile fell into the Sea of Japan after traveling about 700 km (430 miles), after flying for about 30 minutes.
A missile with a range of 1,000 km (620 miles), such as the extended-range Scud, or Scud-ER, would only have a flight time of about 12 minutes if flown on a slightly lofted trajectory that traveled 700 km.
A 30-minute flight time would instead require a missile that was highly lofted, reaching an apogee of about 2,000 km (1,240 miles) while splashing down at a range of 700 km. If that same missile was flown on a standard trajectory, it would have a maximum range of about 4,500 km (2,800 miles).
New press reports are in fact giving a 2,000 km apogee for the test.
This range is considerably longer than the estimated range of the Musudan missile, which showed a range of about 3,000 km in a test last year. Guam is 3,400 km from North Korea. Reaching the US West Coast would require a missile with a range of more than 8,000 km. Hawaii is roughly 7,000 km from North Korea.
This missile may have been the new mobile missile seen in North Korea’s April 15 parade (Fig. 2). It appears to be a two-stage liquid-fueled missile.