The U.S. military is examining whether North Korea launched a two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile, with analysts poring over data to determine whether Pyongyang’s claims to have done so are true, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
Evidence suggests the missile could have been an ICBM, based on fresh data from the U.S. military’s constellations of reconnaissance satellites as well as from foreign military allies and other intelligence collected during the missile’s nearly 40-minute flight.
American intelligence agencies and the military are doing analyses to get a fuller understanding of what the North Korean military launched.
“We’re working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment,” Cdr. Patrick Evans, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
The initial assessment, released late Monday by U.S. Pacific Command, which oversees all military operations in the Asia-Pacific region, had classified the test launch as an intermediate range ballistic missile, meaning that it had a total range of around 3,400 miles. However, that assessment was being re-examined.
A two-stage ICBM would be capable of extending that range by thousands of miles, stoking fears that the isolated nation is drawing ever closer to its decades-long march toward being capable of delivering a nuclear strike on the continental United States.