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Airline Crew Says They Saw North Korean Test Missile Re-Enter Atmosphere

Airline Crew Says They Saw North Korean Test 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 global ballistic missile "everywhere in the world, basically".

North Korean state media condemned the exercise, saying the US was "begging for nuclear war" and will push the region "to the brink of nuclear war", the BBC reported.

"Today the crew of CX893 reported, 'Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location", the airline's operations manager Mark Hoey wrote in a message on a company communication platform, the Post reported. The missile flew ten times higher than the global space station and then back down to Earth.

Cathay Pacific said the ICBM test didn't come close to the aircraft and it now has no plans to alter operations.

Cathay Pacific told the Guardian. While it has a theoretical range greater than 8,000 miles, the missile only traveled a distance of about 600 miles from the launch point.

The CX893 service, which was flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong from November 28 to 29 local time (HKT), was over Japan when North Korea's Hwasong-15 missile was launched, flight trackers indicated.

Korean Air said it was unclear how far the apparent missile re-entry was from its own planes, whose flights originated in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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While Cathay Pacific's flight last week wasn't impacted, and there is generally a low chance that a North Korean missile will hit a plane, experts say Pyongyang's missile tests could still endanger future commercial flights.

"Though the flight was far from the event location, the crew advised Japan [air traffic control] according to procedures". The North Korean ICBM launched Wednesday was shot at an extremely steep arc, nearly straight up and then straight down.

The flight crew's description of the missile breaking up during re-entry suggests the regime's nuclear weapon program still has not yet developed that vehicle, though the regime itself has claimed it has completed its "state nuclear force".

North Korea's new missile was reportedly a new type of nuclear-capable ICBM called the Hwasong-15.

Meanwhile, Senator Lindsey Graham said Sunday on "Face the Nation" that preemptive war in North Korea is "becoming more likely" as the country's improving missile technology presents an increasing threat.

"Singapore Airlines is aware of the reports on the sighting of the North Korean missiles and is closely monitoring the situation", a spokesperson said.