Special Report

How Far the Most Powerful Missiles Can Travel

North Korea tested out its most advanced missile yet, firing the Hwasong-17 into the sea as part of a full test in late March of 2022. The missile stayed airborne for over an hour, flying nearly 700 miles and precisely striking a target. This latest test demonstrates that the rogue nation is closer than ever to being able to deliver a nuclear warhead nearly anywhere in the world. 

Should the Hwasong prove capable of traveling much farther, it would become the latest intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, in the world’s arsenal. Many nations possess these powerful weapons, which are defined as weapons that can travel over 5,600 kilometers (about 3,500 miles), though many can deliver nuclear warheads at much longer distances. (This is the country with the most nuclear weapons.)

To determine how far the most powerful missiles can travel, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the nonpartisan Arms Control Association, an organization that promotes effective arms control policies. Only operational missiles with ranges of at least 5,600 km were considered. Supplemental data came from the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Federation of American Scientists.

The U.S., China, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia are the only countries known to have ICBMs that are fully operational. Other nations like North Korea and India are also improving their missile programs in anticipation of developing their own ICBMs as well. With Russia invading Ukraine, the world is in the perilous position of seeing a nuclear power at war. President Vladimir Putin warned that if any nation intervenes in the conflict, Russia would utilize “instruments … nobody else can boast of, and we will use them if we have to.” No nuclear weapon has been utilized since World War II, but if Russia were to strike Ukraine with such a weapon, the result could be catastrophic worldwide. This is what a nuclear war would do to the world.

Click here to see how far the most powerful missiles can travel

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