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NORTH KOREA yes­ter­day said it was seek­ing mil­i­tary “equi­lib­rium” with the United States as leader Kim Jong-un vowed to com­plete Py­ongyang’s nu­clear pro­gramme.

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 at­tain 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 de­fence min­istry said it prob­a­bly trav­elled around 3,700 kilo­me­tres and reached a max­i­mum al­ti­tude of 770 kilo­me­tres.

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 Chun-hee, 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 De­fence and Se­cu­rity Fo­rum, said 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.

“Within three to five years, the North is ex­pected to be ca­pa­ble of op­er­at­ing nu­clear mis­siles as de­ter­rence,” Yang added.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and his French coun­ter­part Em­manuel Macron jointly ap­pealed for talks with North Korea, say­ing this was the only way to re­solve ten­sions over its nu­clear pro­gramme.

The ap­peal was directed at the United States and Ja­pan, which have called for pres­sure to be ramped up through sanc­tions rather than pin­ning hopes on talks.

Rus­sia and China, North Korea’s main ally, on Mon­day backed a US­drafted res­o­lu­tion at the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to im­pose fresh sanc­tions on Py­ongyang—but they main­tain dialogue is key to defuse the cri­sis.

The sanc­tions im­posed on Mon­day banned the North’s tex­tile trade, stopped new work per­mits for its labour­ers, and im­posed re­stric­tions on ship­ments of oil prod­ucts, among other measures.

In re­sponse to Fri­day’s launch, South Korea’s mil­i­tary im­me­di­ately car­ried out a bal­lis­tic mis­sile drill of its own, with the de­fence min­istry say­ing it took place while the North’s rocket was still air­borne.

Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in told an emer­gency meet­ing of Seoul’s na­tional se­cu­rity coun­cil that dialogue with the North was “im­pos­si­ble in a sit­u­a­tion like this”.

Korean Peo­ple's Army sol­diers at­tend a mass cel­e­bra­tion in Py­ongyang yes­ter­day for sci­en­tists in­volved in car­ry­ing out a nu­clear blast.

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