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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday claimed it successfully test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile, a potential game-changing development in what may be the world’s most dangerous nuclear standoff and, if true, a direct rebuke to U.S. President Donald Trump’s earlier declaration that such a test “won’t happen!”
The launch appeared to be North Korea’s most successful missile test yet. A U.S. scientist examining the height and distance said the missile could potentially be powerful enough to reach Alaska.
In typically heated rhetoric, North Korea’s Academy of Defense Science said the test of an ICBM — the Hwasong-14 — marked the “final step” in creating a “confident and powerful nuclear state that can strike anywhere on Earth.”
It will be difficult to confirm many details about what happened. North Korea’s weapons program is perhaps the most closely held state secret in one of the world’s most suspicious nations. U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials earlier assessed that the North fired an intermediate-range missile into waters near Japan.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment on whether Japan thinks it was an ICBM, and South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it was analyzing whether the North’s statement was accurate.
North Korea has previously launched satellites in what critics said were disguised tests of its long-range missile technology. A test-launch of an ICBM, however, would be a major step in developing nuclear-armed missiles that could reach anywhere in the United States.
The launch sends a political warning to Washington and its chief Asian allies, Seoul and Tokyo, while also allowing North Korean scientists a chance to perfect their still-incomplete nuclear missile program. It came on the eve of the U.S. Independence Day holiday, days after the first face-to-face meeting of the leaders of South Korea and the United States, and ahead of a global summit of the world’s richest economies.
Most outside and North Korean analyses of the missile’s height, distance and time in the air were roughly similar.
U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials say it flew for about 40 minutes and reached an altitude of 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles), which would be longer and higher than any similar North Korean test previously reported. It also covered a distance of about 930 kilometers (580 miles).
North Korea said the missile flew as high as 2,802 kilometers before hitting a designated target in the ocean about 933 kilometers away from the launch site in the North’s northwest. It said the missile flew for about 39 minutes and was made at the highest possible angle.
Russia’s military, however, said the missile flew considerably shorter and lower than others reported.
Before North Korea’s announcement of an ICBM, South Korean analysts said it was likely that it was a retest of one of two intermediate-range missiles launched earlier this year.
One U.S. missile scientist, David Wright, estimated that the highly lofted missile, if the reported time and distance are correct, could have a possible maximum range of 6,700 kilometers (4,160 miles), which could put Alaska in its range, if fired at a normal trajectory.
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of the British Armed Forces Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Regiment, said that “in capability of missile terms and delivery, it is a major step up and they seem to be making progress week-on-week.” He added, however, that “actually marrying the warhead to the missile is probably the biggest challenge, which they appear not to have progressed on.”
North Korea has a reliable arsenal of shorter-range missiles and is thought to have a small arsenal of atomic bombs, but is still trying to perfect its longer-range missiles. Some outside civilian experts believe the North has the technology to mount warheads on shorter-range Rodong and Scud missiles that can strike South Korea and Japan, two key U.S. allies where about 80,000 American troops are stationed. But it’s unclear if it has mastered the technology needed to build an atomic bomb that can fit on a long-range missile.
Soon after the morning launch, President Trump responded on Twitter: “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
“This guy” presumably refers to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. China is North Korea’s economic lifeline and only major ally, and the Trump administration is pushing Beijing to do more to push the North toward disarmament.
After North Korea claimed earlier this year it was close to an ICBM test launch, Trump took to Twitter and said, “It won’t happen!”
In Beijing, China’s foreign ministry urged North Korea on Tuesday “to stop taking actions that violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.”
“We hope all relevant parties can exercise restraint, ease tensions on the peninsula as soon as possible, and bring the peninsular issue back to the correct track of peace talks and consultation,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular briefing.
The missile test could invite a new round of international sanctions, but North Korea is already one of the most sanctioned countries on Earth. U.N. Security Council resolutions ban it from engaging in any ballistic activities. Since late 2012, North Korea has placed two satellites into orbit with long-range rockets, each time triggering new U.N. sanctions and worldwide condemnation.
Last year, North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth atomic bomb tests and claimed a series of technical breakthroughs in its efforts to develop long-range nuclear missiles. The fifth nuclear test in September was the North’s most powerful atomic detonation to date.
In their meeting last week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump vowed to oppose North Korea’s development of atomic weapons.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sharply criticized North Korea for the launch. “The latest launch clearly showed that the threat is growing,” Abe said.
Abe, who talked by phone with Trump on Monday, said the two leaders plan to seek cooperation from world leaders when they attend a G-20 summit in Germany.
On May 14, North Korea launched a Hwasong-12 missile which its state media said flew as high as 2,111 kilometers (1,310 miles) and landed in a targeted area in the ocean about 787 kilometers (490 miles) from the launch site. On May 21, North Korea tested a Pukguksong-2, which traveled about 500 kilometers (310 miles).
The Korean Peninsula has been divided since before the 1950-53 Korean War. Almost 30,000 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.
Since taking office on May 10, Moon has tried to improve strained ties with North Korea, but the North has continued its missile tests. North Korea says it needs nuclear weapons and powerful missiles to cope with what it calls rising U.S. military threats.
Since taking office after his dictator father Kim Jong Il’s death in late 2011, Kim Jong Un has overseen three nuclear weapons tests and a slew of missile tests. Regional disarmament talks on North Korea’s nuclear program have been deadlocked since 2009, when the North pulled out of the negotiations to protest international condemnation over a long-range rocket launch.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – It has been two days since a young man drowned while swimming at Lake Afton.
It involved a nearly three hour search by water rescue crews to find the victims body.
Captain Guillermo Jaso works with the Water Technical Rescue Team at Station 32 for the Sedgwick County Fire Department.
He has spent the past 13 years racing to many water rescue crews.
Capt. Jaso says most of the calls they get come during the summer months, when people are out enjoying some fun in the sun.
He says they train constantly, to be ready at a moments notice.
“When it is nice like this, we are getting out there almost every other shift, we’ve got one of our crews, one of our shifts going out to different body’s of water, whether it is FOP Lake, Lake Afton, different sand pits,” said Capt. Jaso.
He says they specialize in many aspects of water rescue, like swift water, scuba and structural collapse search and rescues.
Even with plenty of experience under his belt, Capt. Jaso admits, his job hasn’t gotten any easier.
“The hard part is finding out where exactly we are going to dive first, finding the point last seen, getting a lot of the information from the witnesses,” said Capt. Jaso.
Whether it’s day or night, Capt. Jaso says there are several challenges that come with the job.
“I’ve been on the rescue team for a while and I’ve been on numerous dive calls and never been on one where we good see, your touching, your feeling whatever we are diving with your hands and your feet sometimes,” said Capt. Jaso.
Capt. Jaso says they work side by side with the Wichita Fire Department as part of a joint rescue team.
“It just gets it done faster, better, more efficient,” said Capt. Jaso.
For those who are planning to enjoy the holiday by the water, Capt. Jaso does offer some water safety tips.
He says be aware of what is going on around you and always swim with a buddy.
Capt. Jaso says it is also wise to have, what he calls a designated watcher, to make sure everybody is safe while enjoying some fun in the water.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s a holiday centered on fireworks, and if you’re not careful those stellar displays can get you in to trouble.
Known for being one of the busiest time for first responders, KSN’s Avery Anderson rode along with the Wichita Fire Department to talk about the do’s and dont’s this fourth of July.
This isn’t just a normal 24-hour shift for Davin Doonan. The twelve year veteran says his station sees a significant increase in calls this time of year, specifically fireworks.
But, Doonan warns, this activity, if left unchaperoned or done recklessly, can lead to injuries. According to Via Christi and Wesley Medical Center, 9 people have already made visits to the hospitals this weekend for firework related injuries.
Though it is legal to set off fireworks in the Wichita city limits, anything that goes higher than six feet is against the law. And Interim Fire Marshal, Stu Bevis says he’s fed up with people breaking it.
“If you’re caught by a firefighter or by a police officer you can be issued a citation that can carry a fine up to $2,500,” said Bevis.
He wants to remind people, shoot fireworks where you buy them.
MAIZE, Kan. (KSNW) – The owner of C-Arrow Stables said he plans to put on a kids riding camp next week despite a devastating fire.
“That’s the thing that I’m focused on right now,” said C-Arrow Stables Owner Barry Cole. “I have 20 some kids that will be here Monday morning and I don’t want this nightmare here for them to have to look at and wonder what happened.”
It was a new day at C-Arrow Stables in Maize on Monday. With a slight Kansas breeze, the horses chowed down, the chickens meandered and volunteers swept up the place.
“I love this place,” said volunteer Hannah Gilpatrick. “This is where I grew up, where I got my personality and I became me, here.”
The family run stable holds nearly three decades worth of memories. It has offered boarding, riding lessons, trail rides and outfitting since 1989.
“I love doing it, always have,” Cole said.
Cole said he was reminded of how much he has grown to love his work when he woke up to his stable engulfed in flames on Saturday morning.
“There was flames coming through there. The horses were all screaming, whining and kicking, banging the stall,” he said.
Cole, wearing only his underwear and flip-flops, immediately ran to the stable.
“I just grabbed these stall doors and fired them open,” Cole said.
The blaze destroyed the stable, the attached barn and nearly all of the facility’s riding equipment.
“There were 54 saddles and over 100 bridles and then the halters,” Cole said.
The fire also took the life of a pregnant horse named Midnight.
“The other stuff could all be replaced, but I felt so bad for her. I still feel bad for her,” he said.
Jamie Fisher’s horse, Dub, has lived at the stables for nearly 15 years. Dub was inside the stable when it caught fire.
“He told me he went out there in his flip-flops and underwear and he just started throwing out-door and his first priority was to get my horse out because he was the only one in the barn that didn’t belong to him,” said Fisher.
Fisher said she’s thankful for Cole’s heroic efforts.
“The fact that he put Dub as a priority was amazing,” Fisher said. It just solidified what I already knew, that Barry and his family are amazing people and this is not a job to them; it is a passion. It is their mission to provide the best care for the animals that are in their care and the people that are in their care and that we are all family.”
On Monday, volunteers and community members spent the day helping Cole clean up the debris and begin the rebuilding process.
“I have gave to the community forever and gave to the kids and them helping us out to clean this mess up, means so much to me,” Cole said.
The fire at C-Arrow Stables is under investigation.