N Korea leader says ‘all US’ within range af­ter mis­sile test

US, S Korea con­duct live-fire ex­er­cise af­ter ICBM test China con­demns test but US ac­cuses Bei­jing, Moscow for N Korea threat

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Seoul, South Korea - Kim JongUn boasted of North Korea’s abil­ity to strike any tar­get in the US af­ter a sec­ond ICBM test that weapons ex­perts said on Satur­day could even bring New York into range - in a po­tent chal­lenge to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

China con­demned the test but US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said Bei­jing and Moscow bore ‘unique re­spon­si­bil­ity’ for the grow­ing threat posed by the reclu­sive North.

Un­der Kim’s lead­er­ship North Korea has ac­cel­er­ated its drive to­wards a cred­i­ble nu­clear strike ca­pa­bil­ity, in de­fi­ance of in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion and mul­ti­ple sets of UN sanc­tions.

Kim said the test ‘is meant to send a grave warn­ing to the US’ and demon­strated the North’s abil­ity to launch ‘at any place and time’, the of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency (KCNA) said.

The ‘leader said proudly the test also con­firmed all the US main­land is within our strik­ing range’, it said.

Trump de­nounced the launch as ‘reck­less and dan­ger­ous’ and re­jected Py­ongyang’s claims that such tests helped en­sure its se­cu­rity. “The United States will take all nec­es­sary steps to en­sure the se­cu­rity of the Amer­i­can home­land and pro­tect our al­lies in the re­gion.”

Weapons ex­perts said the al­ti­tude and flight time of Fri­day’s mis­sile sug­gested it was sig­nif­i­cantly more pow­er­ful than the July 4 test, with a the­o­ret­i­cal range of around 10,000km mean­ing it might be able to reach east coast US cities like New York, de­pend­ing on the pay­load size.

“North Korea seems to have made a log­i­cal step for­ward, as it tries to per­fect the tech­nolo­gies to build and field an op­er­a­tionally-vi­able ICBM that can threaten the main­land United States,” said Michael Elle­man, mis­sile de­fence spe­cial­ist at the Lon­don-based In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Strate­gic Stud­ies.

‘Grow­ing threat’

Kim Dong-Yub, a de­fence an­a­lyst at the In­sti­tute for Far East- ern Stud­ies at Kyung­nam Univer­sity, said the North may have suc­ceeded in minia­tur­is­ing war­heads down to 750kg.

“If the mis­sile car­ries a 750kg pay­load, its range could be 10,000km. Tak­ing into ac­count the Earth’s ro­ta­tion, it means it could reach not only the west­ern cities but New York and Wash­ing­ton as well,” he told AFP.

Tiller­son said Py­ongyang’s main ally Bei­jing, to­gether with Moscow, bore re­spon­si­bil­ity for the grow­ing threat from Py­ongyang.

“As the prin­ci­pal eco­nomic en­ablers of North Korea’s nu­clear weapon and bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme, China and Rus­sia bear unique and spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity for this grow­ing threat to re­gional and global sta­bil­ity,” he said.

Ja­panese For­eign Min­is­ter Fu­mio Kishida said he held tele­phone talks with Tiller­son and agreed on the need to put ‘the heav­i­est pos­si­ble pres­sure’ on North Korea. “We con­firmed that we will closely co­op­er­ate in adopt­ing a fresh UNSC (UN Se- cu­rity Coun­cil) res­o­lu­tion, in­clud­ing se­vere mea­sures, and work­ing on China and Rus­sia,” Kishida told re­porters.

In a stan­dard re­sponse to the test, Bei­jing urged re­straint by all sides, af­ter the US and South Korea con­ducted a live-fire ex­er­cise us­ing sur­face-to-sur­face mis­siles.

The heads of the US and South Korean mil­i­taries also dis­cussed ‘mil­i­tary re­sponse op­tions’ af­ter North Korea’s launch, the Pen­ta­gon said.


Peo­ple watch as cov­er­age of an ICBM mis­sile test is dis­played on a screen in a pub­lic square in Py­ongyang on Satur­day

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