The intercontinental ballistic missile launched by North Korea on Tuesday has the power to reach Washington, D.C. — and much of the rest of the United States, experts said.
In contrast, Pyongyang's earlier ICBM test in late July was believed to be capable of hitting a bit more than half of the continental U.S., but not Washington.
The latest ICBM, fired during the middle of the night in North Korea, soared as high as 4,500 kilometers above Earth and landed nearly 1,000 km from its launch site, falling into the Sea of Japan. During the 50-minute test, the missile "went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they've taken," said Defense Secretary James Mattis.
If the missile had flown on a standard trajectory rather than Tuesday's lofted trajectory, it would have a range of more than 13,000 kilometers, according to David Wright, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit advocacy group.
"Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, D.C., and in fact any part of the continental United States," Wright said in a note.
If the missile had flown on a flatter trajectory, it could have traveled more than 13,000 km, which "would be far enough to reach, for example, Washington, DC," echoed Scott Seaman, Asia director at consultancy Eurasia Group.
Some experts, however, highlighted the unknowns about the missile's range.
An ICBM capable of reaching the west coast of the U.S. mainland is still a year away, according to Michael Elleman, a senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies and an analyst for watchdog group 38 North.