NKorea seeks mil­i­tary ‘equi­lib­rium’ with US

‘N-pro­gram nearly com­plete’

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SEOUL, South Korea, Sept 16, (Agen­cies): North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his coun­try is near­ing its goal of “equi­lib­rium” in mil­i­tary force with the United States, as the United Nations Se­cu­rity Coun­cil strongly con­demned the North’s “highly provoca­tive” bal­lis­tic mis­sile launch over Ja­pan on Fri­day.

The North’s of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency car­ried Kim’s com­ments on Satur­day — a day af­ter US and South Korean mil­i­taries de­tected the mis­sile launch from the North Korean cap­i­tal of Py­ongyang.

It trav­eled 3,700 kms (2,300 miles) as it passed over the Ja­panese is­land of Hokkaido be­fore land­ing in the north­ern Pa­cific Ocean. It was the coun­try’s longestever test flight of a bal­lis­tic mis­sile. The North has con­firmed the mis­sile as an in­ter­me­di­ate range Hwa­song-12, the same model launched over Ja­pan on Aug 29.

Un­der Kim’s watch, North Korea has main­tained a tor­rid pace in weapons tests, in­clud­ing its most pow­er­ful nu­clear test to date on Sept 3 and two July flight tests of in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles that could strike deep into the US main­land when per­fected.

The in­creas­ingly fre­quent and ag­gres­sive tests have added to out­side fears that the North is closer than ever to build­ing a mil­i­tary ar­se­nal that could vi­ably tar­get the US and its al­lies in Asia. The tests, which could po­ten­tially make launches over Ja­pan an ac­cepted norm, are also seen as North Korea’s at­tempt to win greater mil­i­tary free­dom in the re­gion and raise doubts in Seoul and Tokyo that Washington would risk the an­ni­hi­la­tion of a US city to pro­tect them.

The KCNA said Kim ex­pressed great sat­is­fac­tion over the launch, which he said ver­i­fied the “com­bat ef­fi­ciency and re­li­a­bil­ity” of the mis­sile and the suc­cess of ef­forts to in­crease its power.

While the English ver­sion of the re­port was less straight­for­ward, the Korean ver­sion quoted Kim as declar­ing the mis­sile as op­er­a­tionally ready. He vowed to com­plete his nu­clear weapons pro­gram in the face of strength­en­ing in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions, the agency said.

Photos pub­lished by North Korea’s state me­dia showed the mis­sile be­ing fired from a truck-mounted launcher and a smil­ing Kim clap­ping and rais­ing his fist while cel­e­brat­ing from an ob­ser­va­tion point. It was the first time North Korea showed the mis­sile be­ing launched di­rectly from a ve­hi­cle, which ex­perts said in­di­cated con­fi­dence about the mo­bil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity of the sys­tem. In pre­vi­ous tests, North Korea used trucks to trans­port and erect the Hwa­song-12s, but moved the mis­siles on sep­a­rate fir­ing ta­bles be­fore launch­ing them.

Kim

Se­cu­rity

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil ac­cused North Korea of un­der­min­ing re­gional peace and se­cu­rity by launch­ing its lat­est mis­sile over Ja­pan and said its nu­clear and mis­sile tests “have caused grave se­cu­rity con­cerns around the world” and threaten all 193 UN mem­ber states.

Kim also said the coun­try, de­spite “lim­it­less” in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions, has nearly com­pleted the build­ing of its nu­clear weapons force and called for “all-state ef­forts” to reach the goal and ob­tain a “ca­pac­ity for nu­clear coun­ter­at­tack the US can­not cope with.”

“As rec­og­nized by the whole world, we have made all th­ese achieve­ments de­spite the UN sanc­tions that have lasted for decades,” the agency quoted Kim as say­ing.

Kim said the coun­try’s fi­nal goal “is to es­tab­lish the equi­lib­rium of real force with the US and make the US rulers dare not talk about mil­i­tary op­tion for the DPRK,” re­fer­ring to North Korea’s of­fi­cial name, the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea.

He in­di­cated that more mis­sile tests would be forth­com­ing, say­ing that all fu­ture drills should be “mean­ing­ful and prac­ti­cal ones for in­creas­ing the com­bat power of the nu­clear force” to es­tab­lish an or­der in the de­ploy­ment of nu­clear war­heads for “ac­tual war.”

Prior to the launches over Ja­pan, North Korea had threat­ened to fire a salvo of Hwa­song-12s to­ward Guam, the US Pa­cific is­land ter­ri­tory and mil­i­tary hub the North has called an “ad­vanced base of in­va­sion.”

Mean­while, China’s am­bas­sador to Washington on Fri­day called on the United States to re­frain from mak­ing threats over North Korea, which a day ear­lier launched an­other mis­sile over Ja­pan into the Pa­cific Ocean.

Am­bas­sador Cui Tiankai told re­porters at an em­bassy event: “Hon­estly, I think the United States should be do­ing ... much more than now, so that there’s real ef­fec­tive in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion on this is­sue.”

Re­frain

“They should re­frain from is­su­ing more threats. They should do more to find ef­fec­tive ways to re­sume di­a­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tion,” he said.

Trump and oth­ers in the United States and be­yond have urged China to in­crease diplo­matic and eco­nomic pres­sure on its Com­mu­nist ally to help re­solve the stand­off over North Korea’s weapons pro­grammes.

China fought along­side North Korea dur­ing the 1950-53 Korean War, in which Chi­nese leader Mao Ze­dong lost his el­dest son, and Bei­jing has long been Py­ongyang’s chief ally and pri­mary trade part­ner.

But the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has pushed back against the no­tion that it has any con­trol over Py­ongyang, and says it is the United States that should be do­ing more.

Trump tweeted ear­lier this month that the United States was con­sid­er­ing halt­ing trade with coun­tries do­ing busi­ness with North Korea.

Cui on Fri­day cau­tioned against putting China-US trade on the ta­ble.

“Ef­forts to un­der­mine Sino-US trade, or even slap­ping sanc­tions on China, I think would be off-tar­get,” the Chi­nese state news agency Xin­hua quoted Cui as say­ing on Fri­day at a Chi­nese Na­tional Day re­cep­tion.

“If some­one were to pres­sure China or im­pose sanc­tions on China over the DPRK, it would not be sup­ported by many US cit­i­zens,” Cui said, re­fer­ring to North Korea by the acro­nym for its of­fi­cial name, Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea.

“Work­ers at US air­plane fac­to­ries, farm­ers grow­ing soy­beans, com­pa­nies that sell smart­phones to China, man­u­fac­tur­ers that en­joy large mar­ket shares in China, com­pa­nies in the ser­vice sec­tor that have gained trade sur­plus in China, US states that en­gage in ro­bust trade with China would all stand against it,” Xin­hua quoted him as say­ing.

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