North Korea seeks ‘balance’ of force
SEOUL North Korea says it aims to reach an ‘‘equilibrium’’ of military force with the United States, which earlier signalled that 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 yesterday by 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’’.
Kim said the country, despite ‘‘limitless’’ international sanctions, had 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 counter-attack the US cannot cope with’’.
‘‘As recognised by the whole world, we have made all these achievements despite the UN sanctions that have lasted for decades.’’
North Korea has launched dozens of missiles under Kim’s leadership as it accelerates a weapons programme designed to give it the ability to target the US with a powerful, nuclear-tipped missile. The two Hwasong-12 launches over Japan indicate that North Korea is moving toward using angles close to operational to evaluate whether its warheads can survive the harsh conditions of atmospheric re-entry and detonate properly.
Kim 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’’.
After the latest launch on Friday, White House National Security Adviser H R McMaster said the US was fast running out of patience with North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes.
‘‘We’ve been kicking the can down the road, and we’re out of road,’’ McMaster said, 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 yesterday, the United Nations Security Council condemned the ‘‘highly provocative’’ missile launch. It had already stepped up sanctions against North Korea in response to a nuclear bomb test on September 3, imposing a ban on textile exports and capping imports of crude oil.
The US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, echoed McMaster’s REUTERS strong rhetoric, even as she said Washington’s preferred resolution to the crisis was through diplomacy and sanctions.
US President Donald Trump said he was ‘‘more confident than ever that our options in addressing this threat are both effective and overwhelming’’.
US Secretary of State Rex 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 pushed back yesterday, urging Washington to do more to rein in North Korea. Reuters , AP
North Korean military officers and officials celebrate after leader Kim Jong-un, centre, guided the launch of the Hwasong-12 missile, in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency.