North Korea launched a medium-range ballistic missile, not ICBM - Russia

Footage of North Korea's announcement of the missile launch is shown in South Korea

Footage of North Korea's announcement of the missile launch is shown in South Korea

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Russia has claimed that the rocket launched by North Korea today was a medium-range ballistic missile, and not an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The comments were made by the Russian Defence Ministry in a statement, according to Sputnik News.

North Korea launched the missile at around 12.30am GMT, landing the projectile in the Sea of Japan.

Pyongyang has since turned the launch into a huge publicity event, and categorically claimed that the missile was an ICBM.

However the Russian statement reads: "The parametric data of the ballistic target's trajectory matches the performance characteristics of a medium-range ballistic missile."

The distinction between a medium-range missile and an ICBM is crucial, given the potential reach of the respective weapons.

Although the range of each rocket varies, a typical medium-range missile can be expected to reach between 1,000 and 2,000km, whereas the world's longest-range ICBM currently has a range of 16,000km.

This means that, if North Korea possessed an ICBM, it could potentially strike the mainland United States, which is around 10,000km away, whereas a medium-range missile would lack this capacity.

Earlier analyst David Wright, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote a blog post about the launch, based on the data collected so far.

According to Wright, the missile likely had a range of 6,700km, which "would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska."

The world's longest-range ICBM has a range of 16,000km, according to arms industry sources.