North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the test of a newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile confirmed his country has another “reliable and highly capable” weapon to deter external threats, as he warned the United States and its allies that its alleged provocative moves would lead to to “their destruction”, state media reported on Saturday.
North Korea’s state media reported that Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of a Hwasong-17 missile, a day after neighbors said they had detected the launch of an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland.
Some foreign experts said the Hwasong-17 missile is still under development but is the North’s longest-range ballistic weapon designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads to defeat US missile defense systems. Friday’s launch was part of North Korea’s ongoing missile tests, seen as an attempt to expand its weapons arsenal and bolster its influence in future diplomacy.
The North Korean Central News Agency said the missile, launched from Pyongyang International Airport, rose to a maximum altitude of about 6,040 kilometers and flew about 1,000 kilometers before landing in international space. in the waters off the east coast of the country.
“The test firing clearly demonstrated the reliability of the new main strategic weapon system, reflecting (North Korea’s) strategic forces, and its powerful combat effectiveness as the world’s most powerful strategic weapon,” KCNA said.
Kim Jong Un has said his country is forced to further strengthen its “massive nuclear deterrent” as US-led military threats become more blatant. Kim Jong Un stressed the need for the US and its allies to understand that their military moves against North Korea “will lead to their self-destruction,” KCNA said.
“Kim Jong Un solemnly declared that if enemies continue to threaten the DPRK by frequently introducing nuclear strike measures, our party and government will resolutely respond with nuclear weapons and all-out confrontation,” KCNA said.
North Korea will continue its weapons tests as the United States seeks to strengthen its security commitments to its allies South Korea and Japan, Kim Jong Un said in a statement.
US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson condemned Friday’s launch and said the United States would take “all necessary measures” to guarantee the security of its territory and that of South Korea and Japan. Vice President Kamala Harris met separately with the leaders of these countries and Australia, Canada and New Zealand, who are attending a regional forum in Bangkok, to discuss a joint response to North Korea.
South Korea and Japan also criticized the launch and held separate air exercises with US forces. South Korea’s military also said it conducted unilateral drills simulating air strikes against North Korea’s mobile missile launchers at a range near its land border with North Korea.
In recent months, North Korea has carried out dozens of shorter-range missile tests, which it has described as simulations of nuclear attacks against targets in South Korea and the United States. North Korea said its tests were aimed at warning the United States and South Korea about their military exercises, which North Korea sees as a rehearsal for an invasion.
North Korea suspended weapons launches for about a week before launching a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday. Ahead of the launch, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui threatened to launch “fierce” military responses to US moves to strengthen its security commitments to South Korea and Japan.
Choe was referring to President Joe Biden’s recent meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Cambodia. In a joint statement, the three leaders strongly condemned North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreed to cooperate on strengthening deterrence. Biden reaffirmed the US commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with its full capabilities, including nuclear weapons.