North Korea took a significant step Wednesday in the development of a powerful ballistic missile intended to reach U.S. bases in the Pacific, launching one of the weapons about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) high after five failed attempts in recent months.
The North’s suspected Musudan tests worry Washington and its allies, Tokyo and Seoul, because the missile’s potential 3,500-kilometer (2,180-mile) range puts much of Asia and the Pacific, including U.S. military bases there, within reach.
Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said the most recent launch demonstrated a “certain level of capability,” and could lead to a further strengthening of North Korea’s ballistic missile capabilities that can cover Japanese territory.
Each new test – apparently linked to a command from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – likely provides valuable insights to the North’s scientists and military officials as they push toward their goal of a nuclear and missile program that can threaten the U.S. mainland. Pyongyang earlier this year conducted a nuclear test, its fourth, and launched a long-range rocket that outsiders say was a cover for a test of banned missile technology.
Read More: News from The Associated Press