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05 December 2017, 02:18 | Ross Houston
Flight crew witnessed North Korean nuclear missile test, airline says
Crew onboard a Cathay Pacific flight last week claimed to have witnessed North Korea's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test.
Flight 893 was en route from San Francisco to Hong Kong when crew members witnessed what they believe to be the North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile reentering the Earth's atmosphere.
According to Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, Mark Hoey, the airline's general operations manager, also told staff: "Today the crew of CX893 reported, 'Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location'".
Minutes later, the pilot of another Korean Air plane reported seeing a similar flash of light, airline spokesman Cho Hyun-mook said, as cited by AP.
The North Korean missile was sacked very high up, reaching an altitude of 4,475 kilometers (2,780 miles) before falling back into the Sea of Japan about 950 kilometers (600 miles) from where it was launched.
The Cathay Pacific flight took off from San Francisco and was bound for Hong Kong.
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.
Since the North Korea regime does not announce its missiles tests and does not have access to global civil aviation data, the launches come without warning for commercial airliners and pose a potential risk to planes, the BBC News noted.
Regardless of whether or not the test failed on re-entry, the newest missile represents a technological breakthrough for the regime.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (L) and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff speak to the press about the situation in North Korea at the White House in Washington, D.C. on September 3, 2017.
Pyongyang sent tensions soaring on the Korean Peninsula five days ago when it announced it had successfully test fired a new ICBM, which it says brings the whole of the continental United States within range. "The president is not going to allow North Korea to have a nuclear weapon in their hands that can hit America", Graham told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on November 29.
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