SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the test of a newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile confirmed it has another “reliable and maximum capable” weapon to contain external threats, warning the United States and its allies that their alleged provocative steps. “their self-destruction,” state media reported on Saturday.
North Korean state media said Kim oversaw the launch of the Hwasong-17 missile, a day after his neighbors said they had detected the launch of an ICBM that showed potential capability to reach anywhere in the United States.
North Korea’s Central News Agency said Kim watched the launch with his wife Ri Sol Ju and his “beloved daughter” as well as senior officials. State media photos showed Kim walking hand-in-hand with his daughter, clad in a white jacket and red shoes, together watching a giant missile being loaded onto a launch truck. This is the first time North Korea has published a photo of Kim’s daughter. Observers say that Kim, watching the military launch with his family, indicated that he was confident of its success.
Kim, 38, is the third generation of his family to rule North Korea. South Korean media reported that he has three children born in 2010, 2013 and 2017 respectively. It was not immediately known which child he took to the launch site.
Friday’s launch was part of the North’s ongoing barrage of missile tests seen in an effort to expand its weapons arsenal and boost its leverage in future diplomacy. Some foreign experts said the Hwasong-17 missile is still under development but is the North’s longest-range ballistic weapon designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads to defeat US missile defense systems.
KCNA said the missile launched from Pyongyang International Airport traveled up to a maximum altitude of about 6,040 kilometers (3,750 miles) and flew a distance of about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) before landing on the predetermined area in international waters. from the east of the country. coast.
“The reliable test-fire of the major new strategic weapon system was clearly representative of (North Korea’s) strategic forces and its powerful combat performance as the strongest strategic weapon in the world,” KCNA said.
Kim said his country is forced to further strengthen its “massive nuclear deterrent” in the face of growing US military threats. Kim emphasized the need for the United States and its allies to understand that their military steps against North Korea would lead to their self-destruction.
“Kim Jong Un solemnly announced that if the enemies continue to threaten the DPRK, often introducing nuclear strike methods, our party and government will resolutely react with nukes with nuclear weapons and total confrontation with confrontation,” KCNA said.
Kim’s statement suggests that North Korea will continue its weapons testing activities as the United States pushes to strengthen its security commitment to its allies in South Korea and Japan. There are concerns that North Korea could conduct its first nuclear test as soon as five years.
The United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting Monday morning regarding North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch at Japan’s request. But it is unclear whether she can lift fresh sanctions on North Korea because China and Russia, two of the council’s veto members, have opposed moves by the United States and its allies to tighten sanctions on the North over its tests. earlier banned ballistic missiles. year.
National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson condemned Friday’s launch and said the United States will take “all necessary measures” to guarantee the safety of its territory and South Korea and Japan. Vice President Kamala Harris met separately with the leaders of those countries and the leaders of Australia, Canada and New Zealand who are attending a regional forum in Bangkok to discuss a joint response to North Korea.
South Korea and Japan also condemned the launch and held separate air drills with US forces. South Korea’s military said it also held unilateral exercises simulating aerial strikes on North Korea’s mobile missile launchers.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said on Friday that, depending on the weight of a potential warhead, the missile had a range of more than 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), “in which case it could cover the entire United States .”
The North’s nuclear and missile arsenals are shrouded in secrecy. Some experts say North Korea is still years away from having a functional nuclear missile, saying technologies have yet to be created to ensure warheads survive the harsh conditions of atmospheric reentry. But others say North Korea likely already has such a capability given the number of years spent on its nuclear program.
In recent months, North Korea has conducted dozens of shorter missile tests that it called simulations of nuclear attacks on South Korean and US targets. North Korea said its tests were aimed at issuing a warning to the United States and South Korea about their military training which the North sees as an invasion exercise. Seoul and Washington have said their regular exercises are defensive.
North Korea halted weapons launches for about a week before it fired a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday. Ahead of that launch, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui threatened to launch “harder” military responses to US moves to bolster its security commitment to South Korea and Japan.
US President Joe Biden met with his counterparts in South Korea and Japan on November 13 on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Cambodia, issuing a joint statement that strongly condemned North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreed to work with together to strengthen deterrence. Biden reiterated the US commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with a full range of capabilities, including nuclear weapons.