Initial telemetry readings from the United States suggested that a North Korean missile launched earlier this week could strike as far as the coast of California or the Aleutian Islands before U.S. and North American defense commands soon determined those initial reads were incorrect, CNN reported, citing two sources familiar.
Early morning local time in North Korea on Tuesday, the country launched a missile which initial reads suggested could hit the U.S. but actually landed in the sea between Japan and China. Sources believe that the missile was designed to avoid missile defenses and was similar to a hypersonic glide, according to CNN.
While it later became clear that the missile would not be hitting the U.S. and initial reads were tossed by NORAD, some West Coast fights were grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday afternoon around the time of the missile launch.
“As a matter of precaution, the FAA temporarily paused departures at some airports along the West Coast on Monday evening. Full operations resumed in less than 15 minutes. The FAA regularly takes precautionary measures. We are reviewing the process around this ground stop as we do after all such events,” the FAA said in a statement.
A U.S. lawmaker who spoke to CNN and had been given a briefing of the events said that defense officials did not immediately “have a good feel” for the missile’s capabilities and called the situation surrounding the launch “ugly.”
“NORAD followed established procedures to gather information and coordinate with other military commands, allies, and security partners. NORAD determined that there was no credible threat and therefore did not issue a warning of a missile threat to Canada or the United States,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement.
“NORAD is committed to working closely with our interagency partners to ensure they understand normal process and procedures. We refer to FAA’s statement that they initiated a ground stop for less than 15 minutes as a precaution and are reviewing the process for their decision,” he continued.
The revelations come as North Korea on Friday fired two more ballistic missiles, which South Korea detected. The United States, along with Albania, France, Ireland, Japan and the United Kingdom, previously issued a joint statement earlier this week condemning North Korea’s missile launches.
“We call on the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to refrain from further destabilizing actions, abandon its prohibited WMD and ballistic missile programs, and engage in meaningful dialogue towards our shared goal of complete denuclearization,” the statement said.