North Korea seeks mil­i­tary ‘equi­lib­rium’ with US

Kim vows to com­plete Py­ongyang’s nu­clear pro­gram


SEOUL: North Korea said Saturday it was seek­ing mil­i­tary “equi­lib­rium” with the US as leader Kim Jong-un vowed to com­plete Py­ongyang’s nu­clear pro­gram.

North Korea suc­cess­fully fired a Hwa­song-12 in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile over Ja­pan on Friday, re­spond­ing to a new round of UN sanc­tions over its sixth nu­clear test with its fur­thest-ever mis­sile flight.

“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 for the DPRK,” Kim said, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency.

Kim said the coun­try was close to the goal of com­plet­ing its nu­clear am­bi­tions and should use all power at its dis­posal to fin­ish the task, say­ing it had “nearly reached the ter­mi­nal,” KCNA re­ported.

The young leader said Friday’s launch had in­creased the North’s “com­bat power of the nu­clear force.”

“We should clearly show the big power chau­vin­ists how our state at­tains the goal of com­plet­ing its nu­clear force de­spite their lim­it­less sanc­tions and block­ade,” Kim said, ac­cord­ing to KCNA.

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil con­demned Friday’s launch as “highly provoca­tive” and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sched­uled talks with the lead­ers of Ja­pan and South Korea to ad­dress the cri­sis.

The US Pa­cific Com­mand con­firmed Friday’s rocket was an in­ter­me­di­ate range bal­lis­tic mis­sile (IRBM) and said the launch did not pose a threat to North Amer­ica or to the US Pa­cific ter­ri­tory of Guam, which Py­ongyang has threat­ened with “en­velop­ing fire.”

Seoul’s De­fense Min­istry said it prob­a­bly trav­eled around 3,700 km and reached a max­i­mum al­ti­tude of 770 km.

Video broad­cast by the North’s Korean Cen­tral TV showed a mis­sile blast­ing off from a mo­bile trans­port ve­hi­cle and shots of it soar­ing through clouds.

“The com­bat re­li­a­bil­ity of Hwa­song-12 was thor­oughly ver­i­fied,” Kim was quoted as say­ing by star TV pre­sen­ter Ri ChunHee, who ap­pears when North Korea wants to boast of its achieve­ments or needs to make an im­por­tant an­nounce­ment.

North Korea’s of­fi­cial party newspaper Rodong Sin­mun al­lo­cated half its cov­er­age to pic­tures of the launch.

Yang Uk, an an­a­lyst with the Korea De­fense and Se­cu­rity Fo­rum, told AFP that Kim’s stated am­bi­tion of achiev­ing a mil­i­tary bal­ance with Wash­ing­ton was some way off.

“It’s too un­re­al­is­tic for North Korea to reach equi­lib­rium in nu­clear force with the US,” he said.

The North has raised global ten­sions with its rapid progress in weapons tech­nol­ogy un­der Kim, who is reg­u­larly pic­tured by state me­dia over­see­ing launches and vis­it­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

“The lat­est launch, which was ap­par­ently made from a TEL (trans­porter erec­tor launcher or mis­sile ve­hi­cle) in­stead of a makeshift launch pad, means the North is now ready to de­ploy the IRBM Hwa­song-12 for com­bat pur­poses,” Yang said.

“The North ap­pears to have re­solved tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties in launch­ing the mis­siles from TELs. With its mo­bil­ity be­ing in­creased, Hwa­song-12 poses an im­mi­nent threat to the US and its al­lies in the re­gion,” he said.

The North’s pre­vi­ous mis­sile launch, a Hwa­song-12 IRBM just over two weeks ago, also over­flew Ja­pan’s main islands and was the first to do so for years.

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