North Korea said on Monday that the medium-range strategic missile it tested over the weekend is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
The communist dictatorship’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the Hwasong-12, launched early Sunday Korea time, was “capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead.”
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was said to have witnessed the test and “hugged officials in the field of rocket research, saying that they worked hard to achieve a great thing,” according to KCNA.
North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness, but if confirmed, the claim marks another big step forward in the country’s escalating efforts to field a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
Outside experts don’t believe the North can do that yet, but each new test pushes them closer to the goal.
Earlier Sunday, officials told Fox News that the U.S. military believes Pyongyang launched a KN-17 medium-range ballistic missile, the first successful test in four attempts for the Pyongyang regime.
North Korea made three attempts last month to launch the KN-17, but failed each time. Officials believe North Korea aspires to use the missile to target ships.
The missile flew for half an hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan, the South Korean, Japanese and U.S. militaries said.
Missile experts initially thought the rogue communist regime had tested a new type of intermediate-range ballistic missile, but U.S. officials told Fox News that is not the assessment from the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Strategic Command.
A U.S. official told Fox News the missile splashed down about 60 miles south of Russia’s Vladivostok region and approximately 250 miles from Japanese shores.
Japanese officials said the missile flew for about 30 minutes, traveling about 500 miles and reaching an unusually high altitude of 1,240 miles.
The South Korean military said the missile travelled about 430 miles.
The KN-17 is a single-stage, liquid-fuelled missile. On February 12, North Korea successfully tested a KN-15 from a mobile launcher using a solid-fuel engine, causing concern among Pentagon officials.
The KN-15 can be launched with five minutes’ notice from a concealed location, a concerning advancement by the communist regime for senior Pentagon officials.
According to the South Korean military, the launch site used Sunday was the same one used on February 12, the first North Korean ballistic missile test during the Trump administration, launched while President Trump hosted Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
Read more: Fox News