North Korean state media claimed it was a successful test of the Hwasong-17, a huge new missile that the country revealed in October 2020, which experts believe is being designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads. Pyongyang released photos from a variety of angles, and a dramatic and stylized video to show off the launch.
But a close analysis by independent analysts using satellite imagery, weather forecasts and state media footage has raised questions about North Korea’s claims.
“North Korea’s version of events is misleading at best, and possibly a complete fabrication of a successful Hwasong-17 test at worst,” wrote Colin Zwirko, senior analyst at the Seoul-based North Korea-monitoring website NK News, who first revealed the discrepancies.
The missile appeared to be a modified version of the Hwasong-15, an older model that is slightly smaller than the Hwasong-17 and was the last ICBM that North Korea tested, in 2017, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive details. The missile was modified to fly higher and farther than it did in 2017, the official said.
Still, the test showed that North Korea is making incremental progress in improving its ICBM capability, the U.S. official said.
South Koreans have officially reached that conclusion. On Tuesday, the South Korean Ministry of Defense said it submitted a report to parliament that they believe the missile was the Hwasong-15. The ministry declined to release the report publicly.
Pyongyang has tested a flurry of missiles lately, most recently on Feb. 27, March 5, March 16 and Thursday.
North Koreans had described the Feb. 27 and March 5 ballistic missile tests as space launches, but South Korean and U.S. officials said the tests were apparently intended to try out parts of a missile system ahead of a full launch of a large new ICBM.
On March 16, North Korea tested a suspected ballistic weapon that appeared to have exploded in midair within minutes of launching, after reaching an altitude of less than 20 kilometers (12 miles). North Korea did not release any information about that launch.
Eight days later, it claimed that it had successfully tested the Hwasong-17, which is now under question.
One theory under discussion among U.S. and South Korean officials is that North Korea may have failed in its long-awaited test of the Hwasong-17 on March 16 and then launched the modified Hwasong-15 the next week and claimed it was a successful test of the Hwasong-17.
According to Tuesday’s official report, South Korean defense officials believe that North Korea may have felt the need to fabricate a successful test of the Hwasong-17 to quell potential domestic skepticism about its weapons program. NK News reported that multiple witnesses had seen the debris from the projectile falling in or near Pyongyang after the failed March 16 test.
NK News found that when Pyongyang claimed to have released photos and videos taken during Thursday’s test, it probably used images from a test on or before March 16.
“While North Korea publicly reported that [Thursday’s launch] was of the new Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic, intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are closely analyzing it with multiple possibilities in view,” a South Korean military official said Friday in a briefing to reporters on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.
A senior U.S. defense official declined to describe details of the launch but said on the condition of anonymity in his own briefing that it was “a long-range ballistic missile, and clearly they try to learn from each of these tests and try to develop their capability further.”
Japanese officials, however, said they stand by their initial assessment that the missile was a new type of ICBM. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Monday that “the government believes that the missile fired was a new ICBM-class ballistic missile, and there is no change in our analysis at this time.”
North Korea has not yet responded to the skepticism over whether it tested the new missile. In fact, on Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un underlined the claim, congratulating those who worked on the missile test and saying they were a part of a “sacred cause” to develop nuclear capability, state media reported.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Sunday, citing anonymous South Korean government sources, that North Korea may be building a shortcut to a tunnel underground, possibly in an attempt to resume nuclear testing halted in 2017.
Min Joo Kim in Seoul and Julia Mio Inuma in Tokyo contributed to this report.
This fan has shaped anti-discrimination policy in Australian cricket after alleging racial abuse at a match
Connecticut student jailed after fight, accused of bringing gun and high-capacity magazine to school
A Connecticut student was jailed on numerous charges Wednesday after a fight in school led to the discovery of a gun and a high-capacity magazine hidden in a classroom closet.
The 18-year-old student was first charged with assault and disorderly conduct on Tuesday after an altercation with a 16-year-old at the Hamden Collaborative Learning Center, police said.
Officers were called back later in the morning after school security received a report that handgun was in the school. They recovered the 9-millimeter gun and loaded magazine from inside the closet, police said. Police rearrested the 18-year-old on charges of carrying a pistol without a permit, negligent storage of a firearm, first-degree reckless endangerment, possession of a weapon on school grounds and illegal possession of a large-capacity magazine.
He is being held in lieu of a $150,000 bond. It was not clear Wednesday if he had hired an attorney.
Hamden police said they plan to have a school resource officer meet with staff and students daily at the school, which the district describes as an “alternative education program for students, grades 10-12, who have not achieved success in the larger school environment.”
Hamden, a New Haven suburb, is about 28 miles from Newtown, where 26 students and educators were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
LeBron James breaks NBA all-time scoring record
LeBron James has become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 39-year-old record.
Los Angeles Lakers star James, 38, hit 38 points in a 133-130 defeat by the Oklahoma City Thunder to surpass Abdul-Jabbar’s mark of 38,387.
Abdul-Jabbar initially broke the scoring record in April 1984, eight months before James was born.
“To be able to be in the presence of a legend and great as Kareem, it means so much to me,” said James.
James, who needed 36 points to break the record, did so with a fadeaway jumper at the end of the third quarter and he finished the match with a career total of 38,390.
An emotional James rose both arms in celebration while 75-year-old Abdul-Jabbar, who was at the match at the Lakers home court, stood and applauded.
There was a brief break in play for a ceremony to mark the achievement, with James taking a microphone to make a speech on court.
“Everybody that has ever been a part of this run with me the last 20-plus years, I want to say thank you so much because I wouldn’t be me without all you. You all helped. Your passion and sacrifices helped me to get to this point,” he said.
“And to the NBA to Adam Silver, to the late great David Stern, thank you very much for allowing me to be a part of something I always dreamed about. I would never in a million years dreamt this to be even better than what it is tonight.”
Abdul-Jabbar ceremoniously handed over the ball to James to recognise his new record in front of a cheering crowd that included tennis legend John McEnroe, music stars Jay-Z, LL Cool J and Bad Bunny, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr and actor Denzel Washington.
“I thought it had every chance of being broken. It just had to have someone that the offense focused on continually,” said Abdul-Jabbar, who retired in 1989.
“LeBron’s career is one of someone who planned to dominate this game. You have to give him credit for just the way he played and for the way he’s lasted and dominated.”
Four-time NBA champion James is in his 20th season in the NBA, having been drafted first overall by hometown team the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003.
The forward joined the Miami Heat in 2010, winning two titles, before returning to lead Cleveland to the only NBA title in their history in 2016.
He has been with the Lakers since 2018 and helped them win the 2020 title, which was also the fourth time he has been named NBA finals MVP.
Two-time Olympic champion James has won four regular season MVP titles and appeared in the NBA Finals 10 times.
Abdul-Jabbar played in the NBA for 20 seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers, during which he won six titles, six regular season MVP crowns and was named finals MVP twice.
Asked after the game whether he is the best NBA player of all time, James said: “I’ll let everybody else decide who that is or just talk about it, but it’s great barbershop talk.
“Me personally, I’m going to take myself against anybody who’s ever played this game. But everyone’s going to decide who their favourite is.”
Nesta McGregor, BBC Sport
Many thought this was an insurmountable milestone, but it’s finally been surpassed.
Lebron ‘The King’ James has added a new jewel to his crown.
For two decades he has been the dominant force in the NBA – playing for his home town team Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and now LA Lakers – winning a championship with each.
Amongst all his achievements, this may be considered the greatest yet. He’d already overtaken superstars like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, but for some, breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s long-standing record cements James’ status as the best ever.
Lebron is still performing at the very top level. He still averages 30 points a game. So the big question now is how much longer can he continue?
As he celebrates this achievement with his loved ones, James has made no secret of the fact he wants to stick around long enough to pay with – or against – his eldest son Bronny, 18.
And who would bet against him?
James holds the records as the youngest player to reach every significant points tally from 5,000 to 35,000.
He passed six-time NBA champion Jordan into fourth overall in March 2019 and late Lakers great Bryant to move into third all-time in January 2020.
James then surpassed Karl Malone into second overall in March last year, a month after he beat Abdul-Jabbar’s record for the most combined regular season and play-off points. The NBA’s official all-time scoring list only takes into account regular season points.
James, a 19-time All-Star, scored 23,119 points in 849 games for the Cavaliers during 11 seasons across two spells.
He scored 7,919 points for the Heat in 294 games over four seasons and now has 7,314 points in 266 games over five seasons for the Lakers.
James is also in the top-10 all-time lists for assists, steals, defensive rebounds, field goals made and three-pointers made.
‘You elevated the game’ – Lebron James tributes
US President Joe Biden: “LeBron, congratulations. With your whole heart and soul you broke a hell of a record. You elevated the game. More than that, like Kareem, Bill Russell and others who came before you, you challenged and inspired the nation to be better, do better and live up to our full promise.”
Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson: “I never thought that Kareem’s scoring record would be broken by anybody. It means more to myself and to our fans because you’re wearing that purple and gold and broke it as a Laker. This historic moment is so special because we will never see another LeBron James.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: “It’s a towering achievement that speaks to his sustained excellence over 20 seasons in the league. And quite amazingly, LeBron continues to play at an elite level and his basketball history is still being written.”
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry: Your sustained level of play for 20 years, reaching this pinnacle of scoring in basketball, it is unbelievable. Way down the road, when we’re reflecting back on our careers, we’ll be able to be at that level knowing what it was like to battle at the highest level.”
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant: “It’s even funny to just even say that, you know coming from where you have come from, how hard you grinded for this long. It’s been an inspiration since day one. Much love and keep setting the bar high.”
Timeline of success
26 June 2003 – drafted number one by the Cleveland Cavaliers
30 October 2003 – makes debut aged 18 against the Sacramento Kings, recording 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals
20 February 2005 – makes All-Star Game debut, the first of 19 appearances
7 June 2007 – first NBA Finals appearance for Cleveland, who go on to lose to San Antonio Spurs
24 August 2008 – wins Olympic gold with the USA at Beijing Games
4 May 2009 – wins the first of his four regular season MVP titles
8 July 2010 – joins the Miami Heat after seven seasons with the Cavaliers
21 June 2012 – wins first NBA championship with the Heat and claim first of four Finals MVP titles
12 August 2012 – wins second Olympic gold at London Games
20 June 2013 – becomes back-to-back NBA champion with the Heat
11 July 2014 – returns to Cleveland after four seasons in Miami
19 June 2016 – leads the Cavaliers back from 3-1 down against the Golden State Warriors to win their first NBA Championship
9 July 2018 – signs for the Los Angeles Lakers after four years during second stint in Cleveland
11 October 2020 – claims fourth NBA title by beating the Miami Heat, also becoming first player to win Finals MVP for three different teams
8 February 2023 – passes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become NBA’s all-time leading points scorer
Lebron James’ record-breaking moment – in pictures
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