Mis­sile alert

Sunday News - - WORLD -

MOSCOW North Korea is pre­par­ing to test a long-range mis­sile which it be­lieves can reach the west coast of the United States, a Rus­sian law­maker who has just re­turned from a visit to Py­ongyang was quoted as say­ing yes­ter­day.

An­ton Moro­zov, a mem­ber of the Rus­sian lower house of par­lia­ment’s in­ter­na­tional af­fairs com­mit­tee, and two other Rus­sian law­mak­ers vis­ited Py­ongyang from Oc­to­ber 2-6, Rus­sia’s RIA news agency re­ported.

‘‘They are pre­par­ing for new tests of a long-range mis­sile. They even gave us math­e­mat­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions that they be­lieve prove that their mis­sile can hit the west coast of the United States,’’ RIA quoted Moro­zov as say­ing.

‘‘As far as we un­der­stand, they in­tend to launch one more lon­grange mis­sile in the near fu­ture. And in gen­eral, their mood is rather bel­liger­ent.’’

Ten­sions have risen in re­cent weeks over North Korea’s nu­clear weapons and mis­sile pro­grammes.

Py­ongyang has test-fired sev­eral mis­siles and con­ducted what it said was a test ex­plo­sion of a hy­dro­gen bomb as it ad­vances to­ward its goal of de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear-tipped mis­sile ca­pa­ble of hit­ting the US main­land.

There has also been an ex­change of tough rhetoric be­tween Py­ongyang and Wash­ing­ton.

In a speech at the United Na­tions, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened to ‘‘to­tally de­stroy’’ North Korea if it threat­ens the US. North Korean leader Kim Jong-n re­sponded by call­ing Trump de­ranged and say­ing he would pay dearly for his threat.

Reuters was not able to in­de­pen­dently ver­ify Moro­zov’s ac­count, and he did not spec­ify which North Korean of­fi­cials had given him the in­for­ma­tion about the planned test.

In Wash­ing­ton, a US of­fi­cial said that there had been in­di­ca­tions that North Korea could be pre­par­ing for a mis­sile test on or around Oc­to­ber 10, the an­niver­sary of the found­ing of the rul­ing Korean Work­ers’ Party and a day af­ter the Colum­bus Day hol­i­day in the US.

The of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, did not dis­close the type of mis­sile that could be tested, and cau­tioned that North Korea in the past had not staged launches de­spite in­di­ca­tions that it would.

A se­nior CIA an­a­lyst, speak­ing at a con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton this week, said the North Korean gov­ern­ment was likely to stage some kind of provo­ca­tion on Oc­to­ber 10, but he did not elab­o­rate on what form it might take.

‘‘There is a clar­ity of pur­pose in what Kim Jong-un is do­ing. I don’t think he’s done,’’ said Yong Suk Lee, the deputy as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the CIA’s Korea Mis­sion Cen­tre, which was set up this year.

‘‘In fact, I told my own staff REUTERS [that] Oc­to­ber 10th is the Korean Work­ers’ Party found­ing day. That’s Tues­day in North Korea, but Mon­day – the Colum­bus Day hol­i­day – in the United States. So stand by your phones.’’

Moro­zov’s del­e­ga­tion had ‘‘high-level’’ meet­ings in Py­ongyang, RIA said, cit­ing the Rus­sian em­bassy in the North Korean cap­i­tal.

Moro­zov is a mem­ber of the LDPR, a right-wing pop­ulist party. It casts it­self as an oppo- GETTY IMAGES sition party but sticks close to the Krem­lin line on mat­ters of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs.

De­scrib­ing meet­ings with North Korean of­fi­cials, Moro­zov said they ‘‘dis­played se­ri­ous de­ter­mi­na­tion and bel­li­cose rhetoric’’, RIA re­ported.

‘‘The sit­u­a­tion, of course, de­mands the swiftest in­ter­ven­tion of all in­ter­ested states, par­tic­u­larly those rep­re­sented in the re­gion, in or­der to pre­vent widescale mil­i­tary ac­tion,’’ RIA quoted him as say­ing.

Rus­sia has closer re­la­tions with Py­ongyang than many other world pow­ers, linked in part to Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea and the cur­rent leader’s grand­fa­ther, who lived for a time in the Soviet Union.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has joined other world pow­ers in con­demn­ing North Korea’s weapons pro­gramme but has taken a softer line than Western gov­ern­ments.

Putin has said that Py­ongyang will not be cowed into giv­ing up its weapons pro­gramme. He has ac­cused Wash­ing­ton of try­ing to ef­fect regime change in North Korea, and has pre­dicted that this would un­leash chaos. Reuters

Ac­tivists wear­ing masks of United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un take part in a protest in Ber­lin yes­ter­day to cel­e­brate the In­ter­na­tional Cam­paign To Abol­ish Nu­clear Weapons win­ning the No­bel peace prize.

Py­ongyang has test-fired sev­eral mis­siles as it tries to de­velop a nu­cle­artipped mis­sile ca­pa­ble of hit­ting the US main­land.

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