North Korea has again successfully put a satellite into orbit, demonstrating the same technology needed to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
and showing that its long-range missile program is becoming increasingly reliable.
In 2015, the U.S. commanders of U.S. Forces Korea, Pacific Command, and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) publicly assessed that North Korea has the ability to hit the United States with a nuclear weapon.
Preliminary assessments indicate that the satellite was approximately 450 pounds, twice as heavy a payload as the previous successful satellite launch in Dec. 2012, and that the missile may have a range of 13,000 km, an increase from the previous estimated 10,000 km range.
The longer range would put virtually the entire continental United States within range. Even at 10,000 km, approximately 38 percent of the United States, comprising 120 million people, was already within range.
It is clear that North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests are serious, irreparable violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions. This while the North Korean regime remains openly defiant of the international community despite countless attempts to reach a diplomatic resolution.
While the regime claims that the payload is merely a civilian “earth observation satellite,” several U.N. Security Council resolutions specifically preclude “any further launches” from North Korea “that use ballistic missile technology.” Both North Korea’s missile launch and its Jan. 6 nuclear test are unequivocal violations of U.N. resolutions and should be dealt with sternly.
U.S. officials privately commented last month that Washington was going for a “maximalist sanctions approach” in the U.N. but had again been stymied by Chinese obstructionism. Beijing continues to act like North Korea’s lawyer in the U.N. Security Council, trying to deflect additional sanctions and diverting blame onto U.S. “hostile policies.”
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