The latest launch by North Korea has for the first time theoretically put Washington DC in range of Pyongyang’s missiles, an expert has calculated.

While it was unlikely the missile fired in the early hours of Wednesday could yet carry a nuclear payload, the missile itself probably had the capability of reaching the US capital, or anywhere else in the country, said David Wright, co-director of the global security programme at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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“This is significantly longer than North Korea’s previous long-range tests, which flew on lofted trajectories for 37 minutes and 47 minutes,” Mr Wright wrote in a blog. “Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, DC.”

Reports suggest the latest missile travelled 620 miles and reached a height of about 2,800 miles before landing off the coast of Japan. This meant it had been fired almost straight up on a “lofted trajectory”, similar to North Korea’s two previous ICBM tests.

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Mr Wright said it the missile had flown on a standard trajectory designed to maximise its reach, this missile would have a range of more than 8,100 miles. Washington DC is 6,850 miles from Pyongyang.