Forget Seoul or Tokyo or Los Angeles. The city most endangered by a North Korean ballistic missile may be Tokchon, North Korea.
According to a report in The Diplomat, an international news site based in Japan, North Korea’s test of a Hwasong-12/KN17 intermediate-range ballistic missile on April 28, 2017 went horribly wrong, launching from Pukchang Airfield and crash-landing just 40 miles away in Tokchon, causing extensive damage to “a complex of industrial or agricultural buildings.”
Authors Ankit Panda and Dave Schmerler wrote that a “U.S. government source with knowledge of North Korea’s weapons programs” said the missile’s engines failed after just one minute of powered flight.
“Evidence of the incident,” they wrote, “can be independently corroborated in commercially available satellite imagery from April and May 2017.”
While the April 28 test was the third failed test of a Hwasong-12 that month, the report says that missile “was the fundamental building block” for the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) that North Korea’s regime launched on July 4, July 28, and November 28.
The November test of a Hwasong-15 ICBM reached a height of 2,800 miles and spent 53 minutes in the air before landing in the waters off Japan’s coast. While experts believe the Hwasong-15’s potential range would allow it to reach Washington, D.C., its flight distance would be restricted once fitted with a nuclear warhead.
But even that ICBM, which North Korea touted as a successful test, may have broken up upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, according to a U.S. official who spoke with CNN last month.
While North Korea has demonstrated increasing bellicosity in recent months, the regime announced Wednesday that it was reopening a border hotline with South Korea.
Two days earlier, dictator Kim Jong Un declared in his annual New Year’s Day Address, “The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat.”
Responding the next day, President Donald Trump tweeted, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”