De­fi­ant N. Korea leader says he will com­plete nuke pro­gram

El Dorado News-Times - - Opinion -

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his coun­try is near­ing its goal of "equi­lib­rium" in mil­i­tary force with the United States, as the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil strongly con­demned the North's "highly provoca­tive" bal­lis­tic mis­sile launch over Ja­pan on Fri­day.

The North's of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency car­ried Kim's com­ments on Satur­day — a day af­ter U.S. and South Korean mil­i­taries de­tected the mis­sile launch from the North Korean cap­i­tal of Py­ongyang.

It trav­eled 3,700 kilo­me­ters (2,300 miles) as it passed over the Ja­panese is­land of Hokkaido be­fore land­ing in the north­ern Pa­cific Ocean. It was the coun­try's long­est-ever test flight of a bal­lis­tic mis­sile.

The North has con­firmed the mis­sile as an in­ter­me­di­ate range Hwa­song-12, the same model launched over Ja­pan on Aug. 29.

Un­der Kim's watch, North Korea has main­tained a tor­rid pace in weapons tests, in­clud­ing its most pow­er­ful nu­clear test to date on Sept. 3 and two July flight tests of in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles that could strike deep into the U.S. main­land when per­fected.

The in­creas­ingly fre­quent and ag­gres­sive tests have added to out­side fears that the North is closer than ever to build­ing a mil­i­tary ar­se­nal that could vi­ably tar­get the U.S. and its al­lies in Asia. The tests, which could po­ten­tially make launches over Ja­pan an ac­cepted norm, are also seen as North Korea's at­tempt to win greater mil­i­tary free­dom in the re­gion and raise doubts in Seoul and Tokyo that Wash­ing­ton would risk the an­ni­hi­la­tion of a U.S. city to pro­tect them.

The KCNA said Kim ex­pressed great sat­is­fac­tion over the launch, which he said ver­i­fied the "com­bat ef­fi­ciency and re­li­a­bil­ity" of the mis­sile and the suc­cess of ef­forts to in­crease its power.

While the English ver­sion of the re­port was less straight­for­ward, the Korean ver­sion quoted Kim as declar­ing the mis­sile as op­er­a­tionally ready. He vowed to com­plete his nu­clear weapons pro­gram in the face of strength­en­ing in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions, the agency said.

Pho­tos pub­lished by North Korea's state me­dia showed the mis­sile be­ing fired from a truck-mounted launcher and a smil­ing Kim clap­ping and rais­ing his fist while cel­e­brat­ing from an ob­ser­va­tion point. It was the first time North Korea showed the mis­sile be­ing launched di­rectly from a ve­hi­cle, which ex­perts said in­di­cated con­fi­dence about the mo­bil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity of the sys­tem. In pre­vi­ous tests, North Korea used trucks to trans­port and erect the Hwa­song12s, but moved the mis­siles on sep­a­rate fir­ing ta­bles be­fore launch­ing them.

The U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil ac­cused North Korea of un­der­min­ing re­gional peace and se­cu­rity by launch­ing its lat­est mis­sile over Ja­pan and said its nu­clear and mis­sile tests "have caused grave se­cu­rity con­cerns around the world" and threaten all 193 U.N. mem­ber states.

Kim also said the coun­try, de­spite "lim­it­less" in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions, has nearly com­pleted the build­ing of its nu­clear weapons force and called for "all-state ef­forts" to reach the goal and ob­tain a "ca­pac­ity for nu­clear coun­ter­at­tack the U.S. can­not cope with."

"As rec­og­nized by the whole world, we have made all these achieve­ments de­spite the U.N. sanc­tions that have lasted for decades," the agency quoted Kim as say­ing.

Kim said the coun­try's fi­nal goal "is to es­tab­lish the equi­lib­rium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about mil­i­tary op­tion for the DPRK," re­fer­ring to North Korea's of­fi­cial name, the Demo­cratic Peo­ple's Repub­lic of Korea.

He in­di­cated that more mis­sile tests would be forth­com­ing, say­ing that all fu­ture drills should be "mean­ing­ful and prac­ti­cal ones for in­creas­ing the com­bat power of the nu­clear force" to es­tab­lish an or­der in the de­ploy­ment of nu­clear war­heads for "ac­tual war."

Prior to the launches over Ja­pan, North Korea had threat­ened to fire a salvo of Hwa­song12s to­ward Guam, the U.S. Pa­cific is­land ter­ri­tory and mil­i­tary hub the North has called an "ad­vanced base of in­va­sion."

The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil stressed in a state­ment af­ter a closed-door emer­gency meet­ing that all coun­tries must "fully, com­pre­hen­sively and im­me­di­ately" im­ple­ment all U.N. sanc­tions.

Ja­pan's U.N. Am­bas­sador Koro Bessho called the mis­sile launch an "out­ra­geous act" that is not only a threat to Ja­pan's se­cu­rity but a threat to the whole world.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.