On July 28, North Korea launched a missile which traveled 621 miles laterally for 45 minutes, According to the Pentagon, it is the the longest ballistic missile flight in North Korea’s history. Before its lateral flight, the ICBM missile traveled 2,300 miles into space; if angled correctly, the missile could potentially strike Washington D.C. or New York.
Tests prior to the first ICBM launch on July 4 were mainly short- to medium-range missiles that were being used to test accuracy and typically exploded miles from the launch site or in the Sea of Japan. This missile launch was the second of its kind in three weeks and is causing countries–especially those with unstable relations with North Korea such as the United States–to worry about their safety as North Korea advances its technologies.
“Threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy, and deprive its people,” said President Donald Trump in a written statement that followed the launch. The current administration inherited a cyberwar against the missile strike systems of North Korea, one that would greatly improved national and international security if the United States emerged victorious.
“The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region,” said Trump in the written statement. The cyberwar, which began in 2014 when former president Barack Obama ordered Pentagon officials to improve cyber and electronic strikes against North Korea’s program, is primarily an attempt to stop missiles in their opening seconds rather than developing a defensive system against attempted strikes.
Though the increased aggression on North Korea’s missile system has shown reassuring results to some, skeptical experts argue that other factors, such as manufacturing errors, play a major role in a majority of failed missile launches. Regardless of the delays caused by the U.S. defense system and external factors, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claims his country is in the final stages of preparation for the first of intercontinental missile launches.
Obama warned Trump that the North Korean threat would be one of the most prominent threats, and the current president is quickly realizing that his typically aggressive approach may need to be sedated when dealing with this problem.
There is no exact solution to the increasingly worrying missile threat, but there are several options to consider–reintroducing nuclear in South Korea as a warning, pressing China to cut off trade systems with North Korea, and intensify the cyberwar against missile systems despite the physical war that looms over the United States if North Korea were to find evidence of the counterattacks.