US and South Korea send North a missile warn­ing

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

South Korea and the United States fired off missiles yes­ter­day sim­u­lat­ing a pre­ci­sion strike against North Korea’s lead­er­ship, in response to a land­mark ICBM test de­scribed by Kim Jong-Un as a gift to “Amer­i­can bas­tards”. Tues­day’s launch-ac­knowl­edged as an ICBM by Wash­ing­ton-marked a mile­stone in Py­ongyang’s decades­long drive for the ca­pa­bil­ity to threaten the US main­land with a nu­clear strike, and poses a stark for­eign pol­icy chal­lenge for Don­ald Trump.

The US pres­i­dent had vowed that “won’t hap­pen”, but in­de­pen­dent ex­perts said it could reach Alaska or even fur­ther to­wards the con­ti­nen­tal US. It will re­quire a re­assess­ment of the threat posed by the nu­clear-armed North, which has car­ried out five atomic tests and said the multi-stage rocket’s war­head could sur­vive at­mo­spheric re-en­try to strike a tar­get. Amid in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion of the test, South Korean and US mil­i­tary forces launched short-range bal­lis­tic missiles of their own less than 24 hours af­ter­wards from the penin­sula into the Sea of Ja­pan.

Both weapons homed in on their tar­get, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “dis­play­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity of a pre­ci­sion strike against the en­emy head­quar­ters in times of emer­gency”. The South’s new Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-In, who backs en­gage­ment with Py­ongyang to bring it to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble, said the North’s “se­ri­ous provo­ca­tion re­quired us to re­act with more than just a state­ment”. US gen­eral Vin­cent Brooks, the Com­bined Forces com­man­der in South Korea, said: “Self re­straint, which is a choice, is all that sep­a­rates armistice and war. “As this Al­liance missile live fire shows, we are able to change our choice when so or­dered by our Al­liance na­tional lead­ers.”

The two coun­tries are in a se­cu­rity al­liance, with 28,500 US troops sta­tioned in the South to pro­tect it. Their lan­guage is likely to in­fu­ri­ate Py­ongyang, which says it needs nu­clear weapons to de­fend it­self against the threat of in­va­sion and has been sub­jected to mul­ti­ple sets of UN sanc­tions over its atomic and missile pro­grams. The launches came hours af­ter a joint ap­peal by the pres­i­dents of China and Rus­sia for all sides to ex­er­cise re­straint and ease ten­sions. Dis­agree­ment on how best to re­spond will com­pli­cate dis­cus­sions at the UN, where the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was due to meet in emer­gency ses­sion later Wed­nes­day af­ter Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res con­demned the North’s launch as a “dan­ger­ous es­ca­la­tion.”

‘New es­ca­la­tion’

Af­ter per­son­ally over­see­ing the test, the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un “said Amer­i­can bas­tards would be not very happy with this gift sent on the July 4 an­niver­sary”, the of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency re­ported. Break­ing into peals of laugh­ter, KCNA said, he “added that we should send them gifts once in a while to help break their bore­dom”. Kim had in­spected the Hwa­song-14 missile and “ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion, say­ing it looked as hand­some as a good-look­ing boy and was well made”. Ques­tions re­main over the pre­cise ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the weapon, but KCNA said it was a multi-stage rocket with a car­bon com­pos­ite nose cone that could carry a “large, heavy nu­clear war­head”.

The test had shown it could sur­vive the harsh con­di­tions of re-en­try into the Earth’s at­mos­phere, in­clud­ing “heat reach­ing thou­sands of de­grees centi­grade”, to “ac­cu­rately hit the tar­get”, it said. The missile only trav­elled lit­tle more than 900 kilo­me­ters to come down in the Sea of Ja­pan, but the al­ti­tude it reached-more than 2,800 kilo­me­ters ac­cord­ing to Py­ongyang-demon­strated it can travel far fur­ther. South Korea’s de­fense min­is­ter Han Min-koo put its range at 7,000 to 8,000 kilo­me­ters-far enough to put US Pa­cific Com­mand in Hawaii within reach.

US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son strongly con­demned the launch, say­ing: “Test­ing an ICBM rep­re­sents a new es­ca­la­tion of the threat to the United States, our al­lies and part­ners, the re­gion, and the world. “As we, along with oth­ers, have made clear, we will never ac­cept a nu­clear-armed North Korea.” But ex­perts said that par­tic­u­lar red line had al­ready been crossed. “The win­dow for ne­go­ti­at­ing de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion is closed,” Jef­frey Lewis, an ex­pert in nu­clear non-pro­lif­er­a­tion said. “The big point is that we have to ac­cept North Korea with a nu­clear-armed ICBM.” —AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.