North Korea celebrates second ICBM launch with banquet for missile developers

North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-14 being lauched at an undisclosed place in North Korea on July 28, 2017.
North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-14 being lauched at an undisclosed place in North Korea on July 28, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL - Two days after the launch of a missile which North Korea claims puts the 'whole US mainland' in reach, its leader Kim Jong Un and wife held a banquet on Sunday (July 30) for officials and scientists behind the July 28 missile test.

The guests of honour at Sunday's banquet included Ri Man Gon, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea's central committee, and Kim Rak Gyon, commander of the Strategic Force, which is in charge of missile operations, according to North Korea's state agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"The great success in the second test-fire of the Hwasong-14 ... has established a new world political structure with socialist Korea as its axis," said Ri in comments carried by Yonhap news agency.

He also stressed the need to "ceaselessly produce new types of ballistic rockets with high mobility and striking power ... (and) make a series of successes in the field of defence scientific research capable of overtaking the world in the air, on the seas and under water," according to the KCNA report.

North Korean leader Kim personally supervised the midnight test launch of the Hwasong-14 missile on Friday (July 28) night at Jagang, a previously unknown launch site.

He said the test was a "stern warning" for the US that it would not be safe from destruction if it tries to attack, said KCNA in a report on Monday (July 31).

The Hwasong-14, named after the Korean word for Mars, reached an altitude of 3,724.9 km and flew 998 km for 47 minutes and 12 seconds before landing in the waters off the Korean peninsula's east coast, KCNA said.

Experts said calculations based on that flight data and estimates from the US, Japanese and South Korean militaries showed the July 28 missile could have been capable of going as far into the United States as Denver and Chicago.

North Korea launched its first-ever test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4. That missile, also Hwasong-14, reached an altitude of 2,802 km and flew 933 km for around 39 minutes. Experts had said that the July 4 missile could reach Alaska.