North Korea says new ICBM puts Amer­ica’s main­land within range of nu­clear weapons

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE -

NORTH Korea said it suc­cess­fully tested a pow­er­ful new in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile (ICBM) yes­ter­day that put the en­tire United States (U.S.) main­land within range of its nu­clear weapons.

North Korea, which also con­ducted its sixth and largest nu­clear test in Septem­ber, has fired dozens of bal­lis­tic mis­siles tests un­der its leader, Kim Jong Un, in de­fi­ance of in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions. The lat­est test was the high­est and long­est any North Korean mis­sile had flown, land­ing in the sea near Ja­pan.

North Korea said the new mis­sile reached an al­ti­tude of around 4,475 km (2,780 miles) - more than 10 times the height of the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion - and flew 950 km (590 miles) dur­ing its 53-minute flight. “Af­ter watch­ing the suc­cess­ful launch of the new type ICBM Hwa­song-15, Kim Jong Un de­clared with pride that now we have fi­nally re­al­ized the great his­toric cause of com­plet­ing the state nu­clear force, the cause of build­ing a rocket power,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment read by a tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter.

North Korea de­scribed it­self as a “re­spon­si­ble nu­clear power”, say­ing its strate­gic weapons were de­vel­oped to de­fend it­self from “the U.S. im­pe­ri­al­ists’ nu­clear black­mail pol­icy and nu­clear threat”.

Many nu­clear ex­perts say the North has yet to prove it has mas­tered all tech­ni­cal hur­dles, in­clud­ing the abil­ity de­liver a heavy nu­clear war­head re­li­ably atop an ICBM, but it was likely that it soon would.

United States, Ja­panese and South Korean of­fi­cials all agreed the mis­sile, which landed within Ja­pan’s ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone, was likely an ICBM. The test did not pose a threat to the U.S., its ter­ri­to­ries or al­lies, the Pen­tagon said.

“It went higher, frankly, than any pre­vi­ous shot they’ve taken, a re­search and de­vel­op­ment ef­fort on their part to con­tinue build­ing bal­lis­tic mis­siles that can threaten ev­ery­where in the world, ba­si­cally,” U.S. De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis told re­porters at the White House. Trump spoke by phone with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon JaeIn, with all three lead­ers reaf­firm­ing their com­mit­ment to com­bat the North Korean threat.

“It is a sit­u­a­tion that we will han­dle,” Trump told re­porters.

Trump, who was briefed on the mis­sile while it was in flight, said it did not change his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­proach to North Korea, which has in­cluded new curbs to hurt trade be­tween China and North Korea. Washington has said re­peat­edly that all op­tions, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary ones, are on the ta­ble in deal­ing with North Korea while stress­ing its de­sire for a peace­ful so­lu­tion.

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