North Korea's declaration that its latest missile was capable of reaching anywhere in the continental United States was not an empty threat, nuclear experts have warned.
Pyongyang announced on state television that it had launched a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Tuesday (28 November). North Korea claimed the Hwasong-15 missile was its "most powerful" ICBM to date.
The missile, which flew higher than any other missile previously tested by North Korea, landed in Japanese waters.
Pyongyang said that Hwasong-15 was able to reach the US while carrying a "super-large heavy warhead."
The US-based Union of Concerned Scientists concluded that the missile could travel more than 13,000km on a standard trajectory and was capable of reaching "any part of the continental United States."
Two nuclear experts told IBTimes UK that the missile has significant range and could strike major targets in the US, including Washington DC.
"It does appear that this missile would have a range capable of reaching the majority of the continental US, including significant targets on the east coast, such as Washington," said Cristina Varriale, proliferation and nuclear policy research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute.
Professor Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies said that if the missile had been aimed at the US, "it could have travelled as far as Florida".
He said it was significant that the North Koreans were emphasising that they had built a new type of vehicle to transport the missile.
"[This] is important because, until recently, North Korea depended on other countries, like China, to supply it with heavy vehicles than can carry very large missiles," he said.
Varriale said that relations between the US and North Korea were "unlikely to change as a result of this test".
"The development of increased range is not surprising for those inside or outside of government, as it fits with the trajectory of North Korea's progress," said Varriale.
"Under current leader Kim Jong-un, such developments in a compressed timescale make sense."