Airliner Witnessed North Korean Missile Test

Flight crew witnessed North Korean nuclear missile test, airline says

An Airline Crew Says It Saw North Korea's Latest Missile Test During a Commercial Flight

A crew aboard a Cathay Pacific flight from San Francisco caught sight of North Korea's most powerful ballistic missile to date falling back to Earth, the airline said Monday.

Cathay Pacific General Manager Mark Hoey sent a statement to the staff stating "today the crew of CX893 reported, 'Be advised, we witnessed the [North Korean] missile blow up and fall apart near our current location, '" according to the South China Morning Post.

Given the arbitrary nature of the tests, it is possible that a North Korean missile could hit an airplane traveling through airspace near the launch site. At the moment, no one is changing any routes or operating parameters. "We remain alert and (will) review the situation as it evolves".

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.

The latest launch, which saw the missile drop into Japan's economic waters, was condemned by Tokyo's parliament Monday, which slammed the North's rogue weapons programme as an "imminent threat".

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.

Since the North Korea regime does not announce its missiles tests and does not have access to worldwide civil aviation data, the launches come without warning for commercial airliners and pose a potential risk to planes, the BBC News noted. In response to the test last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on China to do more to rein in North Korea, specifically through restraining the country's oil supply.

"It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they've taken".

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

As tensions surged, US Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican and foreign policy hawk, warned that the US was moving closer to "preemptive war" with the North. "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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