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
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.
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