Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Culture&Arts | By Hattie Nash

Airliner Witnessed North Korean Missile Test

Airliner Witnessed North Korean Missile Test

The pilots of two Korean Air flights reported flashes of light in North Korea at the time of last Tuesday's test of the new Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, a weapon that could theoretically range all of the continental U.S. Cathay Pacific flight CX893 claimed to have seen the weapon explode and break apart, according to the South China Morning Post.

The CX893 service, which was flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong from November 28 to 29 local time (HKT), was over Japan when North Korea's Hwasong-15 missile was launched, flight trackers indicated.

Unlike other countries, North Korea usually does not announce its missile tests which means they come without warning or known flight path, posing a potential risk to planes.

The AP reported the missile was in the air for almost an hour and reached an altitude of 2,780 miles before plummeting into the Sea of Japan about 600 miles from its launch point.

The Cathay Pacific flight took off from San Francisco and was bound for Hong Kong.

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"Though the flight was far from the event location, the crew advised Japan [air traffic control] according to procedures". "We remain alert and review the situation as it evolves".

North Korea, like other countries, has access to global civil aviation data so scientists can study the airspace they are about to send their missile into and determine which area is the least populated.

The company confirmed to the BBC that crew witnessed "what is suspected to be the re-entry" of the missile into the earth's atmosphere.

It also claimed the Hwasong-15 missile fired Wednesday can be tipped with a "super-large heavy warhead" capable of striking the whole United States mainland.

Regardless of whether or not the test failed on re-entry, the newest missile represents a technological breakthrough for the regime.

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Washington has repeatedly called for China, North Korea's only ally, to help curb Pyongyang's nuclearization.

As tensions surged, US Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican and foreign policy hawk, warned that the US was moving closer to "preemptive war" with the North.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said he still had confidence in diplomatic efforts to address the North Korea situation, but that the USA also has military options available.

"We're not going to let this insane man in North Korea have the capability to hit the homeland", he said.

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