Air crew saw North Korea missile re-enter atmosphere

North Korea's recent test missile's apogee was "higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken", US Defense Secretary James Mattis said following the test, adding that Pyongyang could launch an worldwide ballistic missile "everywhere in the world, basically".

The BBC reported at least two other Seoul-bound South Korean aircraft traveling from the USA reported witnessing the missile test.

A spokesman said on Monday that the flight crew of CX893 had reported a suspected sighting of Pyongyang's latest missile test.

South Korea's military says the missile flew ten times higher than the International Space Station.

"At the moment, no one is changing any routes or operating parameters", Cathay said yesterday.

After the North launched dozens of rockets and ballistic missiles that year, South Korea complained to the United Nations Security Council and worldwide aviation and maritime organizations about the lack of warning.

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North Korea's Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile reached an altitude of about 4,475 km (2,780 miles) during its 53-minute flight.

The plane, which was flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong, was over Japan at the time.

According to Mark Hoey, Cathay Pacific's general manager of operations, the message from the passenger plane crew to the staff on ground after the November test was: "Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location", the South China Morning Post reported.

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. 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. While the intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, that North Korea has recently tested are not meant for use against aircraft, they could still pose a risk to planes.

Hong Kong politician Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a former pilot, told the Morning Post that re-routing the affected routes, such between Hong Kong and North America, Japan and South Korea, for such situations was an option for airlines.

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

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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