Airlines Are Rerouting Flights to Avoid North Korean Missiles

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

It hadn't previously announced the changes before this week.

North Korea had test-fired what is thought to be its most technologically advanced long-range ballistic missile in the early hours of November 29.

US officials told CNN that the re-entry vehicle likely failed during North Korea's most recent missile test, and the crew of a Cathay Pacific flight claims to have seen the missile explode during re-entry, although David Wright, a senior physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, suspects that the crew actually saw stage separation and second-stage ignition during the ascent. Korean Air hasn't specified how close its flight was to the missile.

The missile soared 2,800 miles into space without any apparent issue, but it is unclear how the weapon performed during atmospheric re-entry, as views within the intelligence community appear to vary.

Despite catching glimpses of the weapon-thought to be the deadliest missile in North Korea's arsenal-Cathay Pacific and Korean Air had not chosen to alter their routes as of Tuesday, according to a Bloomberg report.

The Cathay plane didn't travel over that part of the sea either, according to flight tracking data. North Korea likely chooses splashdown points for each stage that avoid airline routes, said Vipin Narang, an expert on nuclear strategy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "We remain alert and (will) review the situation as it evolves".

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Korean Air didn't provide details of theflights that saw the "flash", or say where they were at the time of the event.

Singapore Airlines officials made the decision after an Air France plane glided just east of an area where a North Korean missile had flown just minutes earlier in July.

Shortly after the test, a spokesperson for the U.S. Defense Department acknowledged that the North Korean missile "flew through busy airspace used by commercial airliners".

As a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the North is obliged to give prior notice of any actions that could threaten the safety of civilian aircraft.

"Maybe they wanted to play a prank on analysts as well: they know these images will be analysed by the west. Fooling around with clues as to the orientation of images makes it harder to glean information from them on three-dimensional missile shape, and launch site geo-location", the Dutch national added.

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