United States Defense Secretary James Mattis said shortly after the missile was launched that the missile demonstrated North Korea may have the ability to hit "everywhere in the world".
The crew of the Cathay Pacific Airways flight says they witnessed the rogue nation's latest weapon break apart and explode as it traveled through the sky early Wednesday morning on November 29. The North has launched its missiles without warning for years.
Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific said that one of its air crews spotted what they believed to be the missile fired by North Korea last week, as they flew between the southern Chinese city and the United States. While it has a theoretical range greater than 8,000 miles, the missile only traveled a distance of about 600 miles from the launch point.
Since the North Korea regime does not announce its missiles tests and does not have access to worldwide civil aviation data, the launches come without warning for commercial airliners and pose a potential risk to planes, the BBC News noted.
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Crew onboard a Cathay Pacific flight last week claimed to have witnessed North Korea's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test.
The plane, which was flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong, was over Japan at the time.
But analysts note the missile would require a re-entry vehicle that could withstand the heat and pressure of descent to deliver an intact nuclear warhead to the ground.
North Korea has developed ballistic missiles powerful enough to reach their intended targets, including those as far away as the continental US, and nuclear warheads for those weapons, but the North has struggled with re-entry vehicle technology, which ensures that the warhead survives the flight.
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Meanwhile, Senator Lindsey Graham said Sunday on "Face the Nation" that preemptive war in North Korea is "becoming more likely" as the country's improving missile technology presents an increasing threat.
Hong Kong politician Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a former pilot, told the Morning Post that re-routing the affected routes, such between Hong Kong and North America, Japan and South Korea, for such situations was an option for airlines.
According to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), that is a comment that needs to be taken seriously. Experts said it could have reached any part of continental US.
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