North Korea seeks ‘bal­ance’ of force

Sunday News - - WORLD -

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.

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