SEOUL — North Korea confirmed on Monday that it has test-launched a ballistic missile that could reach the incorporated territory of Guam, residing in the North Pacific Ocean – indicating the partial climax of a self-imposed ban on long-range missiles and nuclear weapons testing amid the surging tensions with South Korea and the United States.

“North Korea has confirmed it test-launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam”, AP News Tweeted.

Key Facts:

  • On Sunday, North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile, Hwasong-12 (IRBM) “to verify its overall accuracy”, reported the state’s Korean Central News Agency.
  • The media further shared the images showing the missile being launched from a launcher, while the second image showed the country from space. The pictures were allegedly captured by installing the camera on the ballistic missile’s warhead.
  • The media noticed that the ballistic missile was fired at a steep angle off its east coast towards the waters, “in consideration of the security of neighboring countries.”
  • Japanese and South Korean news outlets reported that the missile covered 497 miles (800 kilometers) before rising to the highest altitude of 1,242 miles (2000 kilometers) and touching down the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan.
  • The 27 January ballistic missile launch makes the 7th weapon test North Korea has carried out since the beginning of 2022.
  • On Sunday, an official from the White House stated, “the missile test was being viewed as a provocation to win sanctions relief from the U.S.” while adding that “the Biden administration will respond with an unspecified move in the coming days”.

2,800 miles (4,500 kilometers) is the highest expected range of a Hwasong-12 missile when launched on a normal trajectory. The alleged range is enough to hit Guam, the territory which “North Korea threatened to target with ‘enveloping fire’ in 2017”.

According to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, North Korea is forbidden to carry out ballistic missile tests. However, Pyongyang has been disregarding the pact by launching several ballistic missiles since the last year.

On Sept 15, 2021, North and South Korea launched ballistic missiles covering 500 miles that increased the tensions after the US and Moon ended a 40-year-old pact that prohibited the “ payload and range of missiles of South Korea”. Later, in a statement to KCNA, North Korea said that the contract termination is a “deliberate and hostile act” by the US and that they will “counter the US on the principle of strength for strength.”