SEOUL – South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said on Wednesday that the latest ballistic missile test by North Korea was not entirely successful, since the missile lost contact with its control center in the middle of its trajectory.
Lee said in a press conference that Seoul had detected radio communications between the missile and its launch pad, which was cut off midway.
“In this sense, there is a point where it’s hard to say it’s a success,” Lee said, while acknowledging that the North had reached the next stage in advancing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Lee’s comment came following the North’s announcement of a successful test of the new ICBM, Hwasong-15, which the regime claimed to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and striking anywhere in the United States.
The prime minister said that North Korea’s missile capability had become rapidly sophisticated in all aspects including flight distance and time.
The missile flew 950 kilometers (590 miles) and reached a height of 4,475 km, according to data released by Pyongyang and corroborated by Seoul, Washington and Tokyo.
This is the highest a North Korean missile has flown and indicates the steady advancement of its weapons program.
Given that the missile was fired at a lofted angle, some experts believe that it could have traveled over 13,000 km in a normal flight, sufficient to reach any part of the continental US.
This is the first weapons test by Pyongyang since Sept. 15, when it launched a medium-range missile that flew over northern Japan before falling into the sea.
PM Lee added that the new test could be the North’s response to the recent US decision to put Pyongyang back on the terror sponsor list and said a dialogue with North Korea was unrealistic at this time.