Images of North Korea's latest missile launch reveal a big problem for the US

 

  • Imagery analysis of North Korea's latest missile launch reveals a bigger, better rocket that's been domestically built.
  • The US remains determined to stop North Korea from building a credible nuclear force, but it's looking like the only option left is military intervention.
  • The US ambassador to the UN said the launch brings the US closer to war, but experts say the US might just have to accept North Korea as a nuclear state.


The results are in from North Korea's latest missile test, and it looks more official than ever that the rogue nation has joined the elite group of nuclear nations despite the US's best efforts.

A trove of photos released by North Korean media show the launch process as supervised by Kim Jong Un and reveal an entirely new missile, the Hwasong 15, which is unlike anything ever seen from the nation.

"This is a very big missile," Michael Duitsman, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies tweeted. "And I don't mean 'Big for North Korea.' Only a few countries can produce missiles of this size, and North Korea just joined the club."

RELATED: North Korea's November 2017 missile launch

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North Korea's November 2017 missile launch
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North Korea's November 2017 missile launch
A man looks at a street monitor showing a news report about North Korea's missile launch, in Tokyo, Japan, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
EAST COAST, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 29: In this handout photo released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, South Korea's missile system firing Hyunmu-2 missiles into the East Sea during a missile drill aimed to counter North Korea's missile test on November 29, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. In spite of US President Trump's warnings, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile early today for the first time in four months. The Pentagon has said that the missile had flown for about 1,000km (620 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan. (Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)
A man looks at a street monitor showing a news report about North Korea's missile launch, in Tokyo, Japan, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
People watch a television broadcast of a news report on North Korea firing what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that landed close to Japan, in Seoul, South Korea, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A woman walks past a street monitor showing North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in a news report about North Korea's missile launch, in Tokyo, Japan, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A woman walks past a street monitor showing a news report about North Korea's missile launch, in Tokyo, Japan, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A man walks past a street monitor showing North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in a news report about North Korea's missile launch, in Tokyo, Japan, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A woman walks past a television broadcast of a news report on North Korea firing what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that landed close to Japan, in Seoul, South Korea, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
EAST COAST, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 29: In this handout photo released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, South Korea's missile system firing Hyunmu-2 missiles into the East Sea during a missile drill aimed to counter North Korea's missile test on November 29, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. In spite of US President Trump's warnings, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile early today for the first time in four months. The Pentagon has said that the missile had flown for about 1,000km (620 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan. (Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)
EAST COAST, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 29: In this handout photo released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, South Korea's missile system firing Hyunmu-2 missiles into the East Sea during a missile drill aimed to counter North Korea's missile test on November 29, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. In spite of US President Trump's warnings, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile early today for the first time in four months. The Pentagon has said that the missile had flown for about 1,000km (620 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan. (Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)
A man walks past a television screen showing a file video footage of North Korea's missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on November 29, 2017. North Korea test fired what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile on November 29, in a major challenge to US President Donald Trump after he slapped fresh sanctions on Pyongyang and declared it a state sponsor of terrorism. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks in front of a television screen displaying file news footage of a North Korean missile launch, in Tokyo on November 29, 2017, following a new missile launch. Japan's prime minister said on November 29 that the latest North Korean missile launch was a 'violent act' that 'can never be tolerated' after the ICBM splashed down in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). / AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
EAST SEA, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 29: In this handout image provided by South Korean Defense Ministry, South Korean Navy destroyer launching a missile during a exercise on November 29, 2017 in East Sea, South Korea. In spite of US President Trump's warnings, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile early today for the first time in four months. The Pentagon has said that the missile had flown for about 1,000km (620 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan. (Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks in front of a television screen displaying a map of Japan (R) and the Korean Peninsula in Tokyo on November 29, 2017, following a North Korean missile launch. Japan's prime minister said on November 29 that the latest North Korean missile launch was a 'violent act' that 'can never be tolerated' after the ICBM splashed down in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). / AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
EAST COAST, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 29: In this handout photo released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, South Korea's missile system firing Hyunmu-2 missiles into the East Sea during a missile drill aimed to counter North Korea's missile test on November 29, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. In spite of US President Trump's warnings, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile early today for the first time in four months. The Pentagon has said that the missile had flown for about 1,000km (620 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan. (Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)
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North Korea has tested intercontinental ballistic missiles before, but researchers found them prohibitively small for delivering a heavy nuclear device halfway around the world to the US.

Tal Inbar, the head of the space research center at the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies noted on Twitter that the reentry vehicle, or the tip of the missile that must return down to earth, is "HUGE."

But Mike Elleman, a leading missile expert, wrote on 38 North that despite the missile's size, it still probably can't send a heavy nuclear warhead as far as the US's east coast.

According to Elleman, when North Korea demonstrated the 8,000-mile range of the Hwasong-15 and its other long-range missiles, they "likely carried very small payloads." Elleman estimates that with a reasonably sized nuclear warhead onboard, the missiles would struggle to reach the US's west coast.

What this means for the US

In comparison to the other ICBM launches from North Korea, the response from President Donald Trump has been muted, and perhaps for good reason.

Though Trump has "been reasonably effective" in isolating North Korea and rallying support for sanctions internationally, his efforts have ultimately failed, Paul Bracken, a professor of political science at Yale, told Business Insider.

But North Korea just showed a domestically made missile and missile launcher. It showed a capacity to improve upon its existing designs, and to design new missiles independently.

In short, it showed that even with "maximum pressure" from Trump, aircraft carriers nearby, and US jets buzzing around, it can build a credible nuclear weapon, and will do so in the near future.

RELATED: Kim Jong Un watches launch of new Hwansong-15 missile in North Korea

13 PHOTOS
Kim Jong Un watches launch of new Hwansong-15 missile in North Korea
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Kim Jong Un watches launch of new Hwansong-15 missile in North Korea
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un is seen as the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15� test was successfully launched, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 30, 2017. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looking at launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looking at launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looking at launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looking at launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15� test that was successfully launched, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 30, 2017. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS
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"We know they were building to this. They got it no matter how badly we wanted to stop them. Our options to stop them are still awful," Robert Kelly, an associate political science professor at Pusan National University in South Korea told the Los Angeles Times. "We are stuck. We have to adapt to North Korea as a nuclear power, and we will actually."

The US has repeatedly said it will not accept North Korea as a nuclear power, and that it will consider military intervention to stop it.

As the US's Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said, the launch "brings us closer to war," even though the US is not seeking war with North Korea.

While Haley remarked that the "North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed" in such a war, she neglected to mention that South Korea, and possibly the US, could also face utter destruction from a North Korean nuclear attack.

SEE ALSO: Trump says he spoke to Xi Jinping and will 'handle' North Korea with additional sanctions

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