North Korea seeks mil­i­tary ‘equilib­rium’ with US

UN con­demns Fri­day mis­sile launch, sec­ond over Ja­pan • Wash­ing­ton cites mil­i­tary op­tions


SEOUL/UNITED NA­TIONS (Reuters) – North Korea said on Satur­day it aims to reach an “equilib­rium” of mil­i­tary force with the United States, which ear­lier sig­naled its pa­tience for di­plo­macy is wear­ing thin af­ter Py­ongyang fired a mis­sile over Ja­pan for the sec­ond time in un­der a month.

“Our fi­nal goal is to es­tab­lish the equilib­rium of real force with the US and make the US rulers dare not talk about mil­i­tary op­tion,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was quoted as say­ing by the state news agency, KCNA.

Kim was shown beam­ing as he watched the mis­sile fly from a mov­ing launcher in pho­tos re­leased by the agency, sur­rounded by sev­eral of­fi­cials.

“The com­bat ef­fi­ciency and re­li­a­bil­ity of Hwa­song-12 were thor­oughly ver­i­fied,” said Kim as quoted by KCNA. He added that the North’s goal of com­plet­ing its nu­clear force had “nearly reached the ter­mi­nal.”

North Korea has launched dozens of mis­siles un­der Kim’s lead­er­ship as it ac­cel­er­ates a weapons pro­gram de­signed to give it the abil­ity to tar­get the United States with a pow­er­ful, nu­clear-tipped mis­sile.

Af­ter the lat­est mis­sile launch on Fri­day, White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser H.R. McMaster said the United States was fast run­ning out of pa­tience with North Korea’s mis­sile and nu­clear pro­grams.

“We’ve been kick­ing the can down the road, and we’re out of road,” McMaster told re­porters, re­fer­ring to Py­ongyang’s re­peated mis­sile tests in de­fi­ance of in­ter­na­tional pres­sure.

“For those... who have been com­ment­ing on a lack of a mil­i­tary op­tion, there is a mil­i­tary op­tion,” he said, adding that it would not be the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pre­ferred choice.

Also on Fri­day, the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil con­demned the “highly provoca­tive” mis­sile launch by North Korea.

It had al­ready stepped up sanc­tions against North Korea in re­sponse to a nu­clear bomb test on Septem­ber 3, im­pos­ing a ban on North Korea’s tex­tile ex­ports and cap­ping its im­ports of crude oil.

Nikki Ha­ley, the US am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, echoed McMaster’s strong rhetoric, even as she said Wash­ing­ton’s pre­ferred res­o­lu­tion to the cri­sis is through di­plo­macy and sanc­tions.

“What we are see­ing is, they are con­tin­u­ing to be provoca­tive, they are con­tin­u­ing to be reck­less and at that point there’s not a whole lot the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil is go­ing to be able to do from here, when you’ve cut 90% of the trade and 30% of the oil,” Ha­ley said.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said that he is “more con­fi­dent than ever that our op­tions in ad­dress­ing this threat are both ef­fec­tive and over­whelm­ing.” He said at Joint Base An­drews near Wash­ing­ton that North Korea “has once again shown its ut­ter con­tempt for its neigh­bors and for the en­tire world com­mu­nity.”

North Korea’s lat­est test mis­sile flew over Hokkaido in north­ern Ja­pan on Fri­day and landed in the Pa­cific about 2,000 km. to the east, the Ja­panese govern­ment said.

It trav­eled about 3,700 km. in to­tal, ac­cord­ing to South Korea’s mil­i­tary, far enough to reach the US Pa­cific ter­ri­tory of Guam, which the North has threat­ened be­fore.

“The range of this test was sig­nif­i­cant since North Korea demon­strated that it could reach Guam with this mis­sile,” the Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists ad­vo­cacy group said in a state­ment. How­ever, the ac­cu­racy of the mis­sile, still at an early stage of de­vel­op­ment, was low, it said.

On Thurs­day, US Sec­re­tary of State Tiller­son called on China, Py­ongyang’s only ally, and Russia to ap­ply more pres­sure on North Korea by “tak­ing di­rect ac­tions of their own.”

Bei­jing has pushed back, urg­ing Wash­ing­ton to do more to rein in North Korea.

“Hon­estly, I think the United States should be do­ing... much more than now, so that there’s real ef­fec­tive in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion on this is­sue,” China’s am­bas­sador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said on Fri­day.

“They should re­frain from is­su­ing more threats. They should do more to find ef­fec­tive ways to re­sume di­a­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tion,” he said, while adding that China would never ac­cept North Korea as a nu­clear weapons state.

North Korea staged its sixth and most pow­er­ful nu­clear bomb test ear­lier this month and in July tested long-range in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles ca­pa­ble of reach­ing at least parts of the US main­land.

Last month, North Korea fired an in­ter­me­di­ate range mis­sile that also flew over Hokkaido into the ocean.

Warn­ing an­nounce­ments about the lat­est mis­sile blared in parts of north­ern Ja­pan, while many res­i­dents re­ceived alerts on their mo­bile phones or saw warn­ings on TV telling them to seek refuge.

The US mil­i­tary said it had de­tected a sin­gle in­ter­me­di­ate range bal­lis­tic mis­sile but it did not pose a threat to North Amer­ica or Guam.

Asked about the prospect for di­rect talks, a White House spokesman said, “As the pres­i­dent and his na­tional se­cu­rity team have re­peat­edly said, now is not the time to talk to North Korea.”

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jaein also said di­a­logue with the North was im­pos­si­ble at this point. He or­dered of­fi­cials to an­a­lyze and pre­pare for new North Korean threats, in­clud­ing elec­tro­mag­netic pulse and bio­chem­i­cal at­tacks.

The United States and South Korea are tech­ni­cally still at war with North Korea be­cause the 1950-53 Korean con­flict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty. The North ac­cuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, of plan­ning to in­vade and reg­u­larly threat­ens to de­stroy it and its Asian al­lies.


NORTH KOREAN leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwa­song-12 mis­sile in this un­dated photo re­leased yes­ter­day by North Korea’s Korean Cen­tral News Agency.

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