North Korea confirms the successful test of a missile capable of striking US soil in Guam

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In the face of continuing US-led sanctions, some experts believe North Korea’s latest testing spree is aimed at gaining sanction relief or world recognition as a legitimate nuclear state.

North Korea said Monday that it successfully test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of reaching US territory Guam, the North’s most major weapon launch in years, as Washington prepares to demonstrate its commitment to its Asian allies with an undisclosed step.

North Korea is cranking up pressure on the Biden administration amid stalled nuclear diplomacy, and Sunday’s launch could be a forerunner to heavier provocations by the North, including nuclear and long-range missile tests that represent a direct threat to the US mainland. In the face of pandemic-related hardships and continuous US-led sanctions, several experts believe North Korea’s latest testing spree is intended to seek sanction relief or world recognition as a legitimate nuclear state. They believe that if further sanctions are imposed in response to Sunday’s launch, North Korea will undertake more tests.

The goal of the test, according to the official Korean Central News Agency, was to verify the overall accuracy of the Hwasong-12 missile already in use by the military. KCNA released two sets of images, one showing the missile rising from a launcher and soaring into space, and the other showing North Korea and its environs, which it claimed were captured by a camera mounted on the missile’s warhead. Because the photos’ legitimacy could not be verified, the Associated Press opted not to use them.

North Korea claimed the missile was launched at a high angle toward the waters off its east coast to avoid overflying other countries. It didn’t go on to say anything else. The missile flew around 800 kilometres (497 miles) and reached a maximum height of 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles) before landing in the oceans between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to South Korean and Japanese estimates.

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