North Korea's Latest ICBM Broke Up on Re-entry

North Korean missile tests in the past several months have led to tensions with the USA, as President Donald Trump has made multiple threats against the rogue nation and its leader Kim Jong-un, whom Trump has deemed "little rocket man".

The airline told the BBC that the crew flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong saw "what is suspected to be the re-entry" of a North Korean nuclear missile during a test.

"Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location", the crew reported, according to the airline's general manager of operations Mark Hoey.

According to the Associated Press, the crew reported seeing the missile re-enter the atmosphere over Japan during a flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong on November 29.

North Korea's Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile reached an altitude of about 4,475 km (2,780 miles) during its 53-minute flight.

After the North launched dozens of rockets and ballistic missiles that year, South Korea complained to the United Nations Security Council and global aviation and maritime organizations about the lack of warning.

While airlines can reroute flight paths to avoid such incidents, according to SCMP, Cathay Pacific said neither it nor other carriers were "changing any routes or operating parameters" at the moment.

"We remain alert and review the situation as it evolves", the airline spokesman said.

Singapore Airlines has changed the route of its Seoul-Los Angeles flights because of North Korean missile tests over the Sea of Japan, the airline revealed Tuesday. Most media outlets have adopted North Korea's preferred "Hwasong-15" designation for the system, noting that it's definitely much larger and seems capable of significantly longer flight times than its predecessor.

After last week's launch, the rogue state boasted that the weapon was capable of hitting the USA mainland.

The flight crew's description of the missile breaking up during re-entry suggests the regime's nuclear weapon program still has not yet developed that vehicle, though the regime itself has claimed it has completed its "state nuclear force".

It's not the first time this year a North Korean missile has had a close call with a passenger plane.

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.

  • Joey Payne