North Korea released dozens of photos Thursday showing the events leading up to its latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch, including pics of despot Kim Jong Un howling in laughter after he ordered his rocket men to “fire with courage.”
The photos, released by Rodong Sinmun, the regime’s daily paper, showed a bigger and more advanced ICBM and a domestically produced mobile launcher. The paper claimed the Hwasong-15 missile was powerful enough to carry a “super-heavy nuclear warhead” that could strike “the whole mainland of the U.S.”
Analysts quickly examined the photos and deemed them a “gold mine for rocket experts.” Compared to the Hwasong-14 ICBM North Korea tested in July, the new missile appeared significantly bigger in appearance. The domestically made erector-launcher vehicle also gives Kim’s regime the ability to avoid begging China or other friendly countries for the technology.
The rocket is believed to be larger than previous North Korean ICBMs because the launch vehicle has nine wheels on each side, rather than the eight seen in previous launches. A mobile launcher also makes it harder for officials to detect and destroy the Hwasong-15 before it's launched.
Kim’s excitement over the Wednesday middle-of-the-night surprise launch was clearly visible as he watched a monitor with supposed flight data. One picture showed him bending over backward in laughter and another had him pumping his fist.
Kim declared hours after firing the ICBM that North Korea had “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force.”
"The development and advancement of the strategic weapon of the DPRK are to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country from the U.S. imperialists' nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat, and to ensure the peaceful life of the people, and therefore, they would not pose any threat to any country and region as long as the interests of the DPRK are not infringed upon," an earlier KCNA statement said.
The regime’s Korean Central News Agency also noted the excitement among North Koreans of the “successful test-fire” who allegedly hosted “dancing parties” in the midst of their celebration.
"The successful test-fire of the new-type ICBM Hwasong-15 has thrown all servicepersons and civilians of the DPRK into great joy and excitement,” KCNA said in a Thursday statement. “Dancing parties were displayed by working people of various circles and youth and students in different parts of Pyongyang."
It continued: "The participants danced to the tune of songs 'Our Leader Loved by the People' and 'The Country of the People,' extending the highest glory…to respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un who registered a great success in…completing the state nuclear force.”
However, experts still believe the missile may only be able to reach the West Coast of the U.S. if it was loaded with a nuclear warhead, not a dummy such as the one the Hwasong-15 carried Wednesday.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the latest missile test placed the U.S. and the world “closer to war, not farther from it.”
"We have never sought war with North Korea and still today we do not seek it,” Haley added.
President Trump chimed in on Twitter on Thursday saying: “The Chinese envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man. Hard to believe his people, and the military, put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemned the launch.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.