The North Korean government has confirmed its forces test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sunday, capable of striking US forces on the American South Pacific island of Guam, or the US military base on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
CBS News Asia correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reported the missile tested — the Hwasong-12 — is capable of travelling over 1,800 miles (2,897 kilometers), putting both Guam and Japan within range.
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) January 30, 2022
North Korea’s KCNA state news agency reported that the purpose of the test was to verify the overall accuracy of the Hwasong-12, and published images of the launch as well as a photo showing the hermit kingdom from space, allegedly captured by a camera carried by the missile warhead.
The missile was launched to “the highest angle firing system from the north-western area to the East Sea of Korea in consideration of the security of the neighboring countries,” KCNA reported.
Officials in South Korea and Japan reported the missile rose to a maximum altitude of 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) and flew some 800 kilometers (497 miles) before landing in the Eastern Sea (also known as the Sea of Japan) between the Korean peninsula and Japan.
Both countries condemned the launch, a direct violation of a United Nations ban on ballistic and nuclear weapons tests that North Korea ignores on a regular basis.
Multiple American news outlets expressed concern the launch could be a prelude to bigger provocations by Pyongyang, such as nuclear and long-range missile tests that could directly threaten the US mainland.
The island of Guam is located about 3,430 kilometers (2,131 miles) from North Korea and hosts at least three important US military bases, including Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo on the northern side of the island, Naval Force Maria NAS Base in MariaNAS, and Naval Base Guam Navy Base in Apra Harbor. There are at least 7,000 American service members on the 210-square-mile (540 sq. km) island, which is home to 168, 801 civilians (as of 2021).