N. Korea leader vows to com­plete nu­clear pro­gram

Kim says his mil­i­tary close to ‘equi­lib­rium’

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - MILWAUKEE WISCONSIN -

SEOUL, South Korea 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 2,300 miles as it passed over the Ja­panese is­land of Hokkaido be­fore land­ing in the north­ern Pa­cific Ocean. It was the coun­try’s longestever 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 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.

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