Russia: 'Time to open border' with North Korea says host

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In March this year, the North Korean military launched its Hwasong 17 ICBM, which they claimed to be one of their greatest military achievements yet. They claimed that the test was a success, with a state media report describing the launch as a “powerful nuclear war deterrent”. However, experts now believe that this missile, which reportedly put the entirety of the US mainland within Pyongyang’s range, never actually took off on the day of the launch.

Arms-control expert Jeffrey Lewis and his team at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey believe that the test failed after comparing the propaganda images shared by North Korea, with satellite imagery captured by US-based company Planet.

North Korean propaganda footage revealed a massive ICBM mounted on a truck, which was presumed to be the Hwason-17.

Satellite imagery from Planet shows the same spot without the truck or ICBM presence, but with a large scorch mark, suggesting that a missile had been launched recently.

However, speaking on the Click Here podcast, Dr Lewis noted that the satellite image was taken on March 16, eight days before the supposed Hwasong-17 success.

He tweeted: “My best guess, as others like Colin Zwirko have argued, is that North Korea then launched a previously tested ICBM, probably the Hwasong-15, tested in 2017.

“That launch succeeded and the North Koreans have tried to pass that off as a successful test of the new Hwasong-17 ICBM.”

Speaking on the podcast, he said: “The simplest answer is that they launched the big one on March 16.

“They filmed it, King Jong-un was there. But it blew up, so they couldn’t announce it.

“So they came back a few days later. They launched a different missile that they were pretty sure would work.”

The second missile launch, which could be a Hwasong 15, was successful, with Japanese authorities confirming that the missile flew for 71 minutes, reaching a maximum altitude of 6,000 km and flying 1,100km away from its launch site on March 24.

At the time, state media quoted Kim as saying that North Korea was “fully ready” for any potential military confrontation with the United States.

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The US responded to the launch with fury, saying it would push the U.N. Security Council to “update and strengthen” sanctions on North Korea over its “increasingly dangerous provocations,”

North Korean state media said leader Kim Jong Un ordered the test because of “daily- escalating military tension in and around the Korean peninsula” and the “inevitability of the long-standing confrontation with the US imperialists accompanied by the danger of a nuclear war.

“The strategic forces … are fully ready to thoroughly curb and contain any dangerous military attempts of the US imperialists.”

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