Kim Jong Un: My Missiles Can Hit US Pacific Targets
Experts say North Korea is, at very least, making progress in its launch capabilities
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2016 7:37 AM CDT
A man passes by as a TV news shows an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un published Thursday in North Korea's "Rodong Sinmun" newspaper in Seoul, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

(Newser) – Japan expressed concern about North Korea's Wednesday Musudan missile launches, especially since one of the two made it more than halfway to Japan. But per Kim Jong Un, Japan shouldn't be alone in its worry, the Guardian reports. "We have the sure capability to attack in an overall and practical way the Americans in the Pacific operation theater," the North Korean leader said, per the KCNA state news agency. The BBC notes that, in theory, Musudan missiles have a range of 2,500 miles—far enough to touch down in the US territory of Guam. And while many of North Korea's claims are usually dismissed as hyperbole or outright fabrication—and four previous missile launches this year failed—the second missile flew a confirmed 250 miles.

That missile, the New York Times points out, also reached a record altitude for North Korea at what the country reported was 878 miles (other sources, however, say 620 miles). A scientist with California's Middlebury Institute of International Studies says the second missile appeared to have been launched purposely with a high angle so it wouldn't reach Japan. "Had it been fired at its normal angle, it would have flown to its full range," he notes, adding to the Wall Street Journal that, "if we do nothing, they will move on to a missile … that can reach the US." The Times and Journal also explain that the sharp trajectory allowed for the testing of technology that makes a nuclear warhead resistant to heat when "breaching the earth's atmosphere."