Cathay Pacific crew witnessed North Korea missile test

Gwen Vasquez
December 5, 2017

Crew on board a Cathay Pacific plane flying over Japan reported a suspected sighting of last week's North Korean missile test, the airline said.

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.

The South China Morning Post reports that the airline's general manager of operations Mark Hoey posted on the internal company communications platform to warn colleagues of the flight's proximity to the missile.

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.

North Korea released an image of the November 29 launch of its most powerful ballistic missile yet. "We remain alert and (will) review the situation as it evolves".

He said the crew had witnessed the missile "blow up and fall apart near our location" and that another Cathay Pacific flight - CX096 between Hong Kong and Anchorage in Alaska - may have been even closer.

North Korea's test of the Hwasong-15 was reportedly its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile and reached a record height of 2,800 miles, according to the country's state-run media, CNN reported.

On Monday, Tokyo's parliament labeled North Korea's weapons program an "imminent threat".

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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.

Analysts say it is unclear whether the missile survived re-entry into the earth's atmosphere or could successfully deliver a warhead to its target - key technological hurdles for Pyongyang.

The North has boasted that the Hwasong 15 ICBM tested on Wednesday is capable of delivering a "super-large" nuclear warhead anywhere in the United States mainland.

Regardless of whether or not the test failed on re-entry, the newest missile represents a technological breakthrough for the regime.

Washington has called on China, the North's major ally, to do more to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said he still had confidence in diplomatic efforts to address the North Korea situation, but that the USA also has military options available.

"We're not going to let this insane man in North Korea have the capability to hit the homeland", he said.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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