How North Korea kept US on toes in 2017
North Korea's military might has grown by leaps and bounds in 2017 especially their missile program. It has fired around 23 missiles in 16 tests this year with the most recent one being on November 29. The increasing range of North Korea's missiles has not only left Japan and South Korea worrying but also sent shivers down United States' spine. Pyongyang, in fact, claimed that its test of the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Hwasong-15 on November 29 could strike 'anywhere on the United States mainland'.
Although North Korea has been conducting missiles tests for years, its tests in 2017 showed remarkable technological advancement, despite diplomatic and economic isolation. Not only did it show that it had a range of ballistic missiles, North Korea also tested one nuclear weapon this year. The size of the weapon tested on September 3, said to be a hydrogen bomb, dwarfed all previous tests conducted by the country with some experts pegging its yield to be around 200-250 kilotons, which is almost 17 times the size of the atom bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.
Here are some of the important missile tests conducted by North Korea in 2017:
On April 4, 2017, North Korea launched a medium-range ballistic missile which reached the Sea of Japan.
On April 16, a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile was launched and failed almost immediately, according to the United States Military and the South Korean Armed Forces.
On May 14, a ballistic missile test was carried out. The Hwasong-12 missile flew for 30 minutes, covering a distance of 700 km and reaching an altitude upwards of 2,000 km .
On June 8, North Korea fired four anti-ship missiles off its east coast, near the port city of Wonsan.
On July 4, North Korea conducted the first publicly announced flight test of its ICBM Hwasong-14, timed to coincide with the U.S. Independence Day celebrations. This flight had a claimed range of 933 kilometres eastwards into the Sea of Japan and reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometres during a 39-minute flight.
On July 28, North Korea launched an additional ballistic missile from Chagang Province, reaching an altitude of 3,000 km. It was estimated that the missile could have a range of approximately 10,000 km based on its 45-minute flight time. With this range, the missile could potentially reach major U.S. cities such as Denver and Chicago.
On August 29, North Korea launched a missile which flew over Hokkaido, Japan. The missile reached an altitude of 550 km and flew a total distance of around 2,700 km before crashing into the Pacific.
On September 15, North Korea fired a Hwasong-12 missile over Hokkaido, Japan, for the second time. The missile traveled 3,700 kilometres and reached a maximum height of 770 kilometres.
After a hiatus of close to two months, North Korea on November 29 successfully tested ICBM Hwasong-15. North Korea claimed that it can strike anywhere on the United States mainland. Hwasong-15 reached heights of almost 4,500 kilometers and covered a distance of around 950 kilometers before splashing into the sea around 210 kms from Japan's Aomori Prefecture.