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

Three chees North Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrates after giving an order to test-fire the newly developed inter-continental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15

According to the Committee of chiefs of staffs of armed forces of South Korea, the missile launched from the landfill in the North Korean city of Pinson in the province's toll.

He also told CNN: "You should see constellations that are opposites in the sky". Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government.

Langbroek pointed out that in two images, the exhaust plume and position of the number on the missile were nearly identical, yet the star-field had been edited. North Korea state media reported the Hwasong-15 reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometers (2,800 miles), putting the "whole" U.S. mainland in range. "So these two images from the same view point, show dramatically opposite sky areas", the scientist explained in his blog.

North Korea's testing of its Hwasong-15 long-range ballistic missile on 29 November has renewed concerns regarding the threat the country poses for the US. However, the longer exposure means that movement is captured as a blur.

Essentially, Langbroek suggested the stars in the background don't match up with the viewpoints from which the photos were taken.

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But it has also led to another spate of warnings that, if sanctions don't change North Korea's calculus, military action might be needed.

In August, Air France-KLM expanded its no-fly zone around North Korea after a missile test.

"Stars just don't look that different a few miles apart, and we have no reason to disbelieve that this launch was from the Pyongsong region north of Pyongyang", McDowell said. "But mainly I took a look at these images with a specific interest in the directions they were taken, because I was discussing the geolocation of the launch site with @ArmsControlWonk and the noted the oddities", he wrote.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said on his latest podcast his team will use forensic software to lighten the nighttime images for clues. "That is not the case", Langbroek told CNN.

But McDowell believes the images were only edited for aesthetics because the missile itself does not appear to have been altered. "I want them to stop sending dependents, and I think it's now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea", the South Carolina Republican said on CBS's Face the Nation program.

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