North Korea yesterday warned that the US mainland is within range of its missiles and said Washington’s recent agreement to let Seoul possess missiles capable of hitting all of the North shows the allies are plotting to invade the country.
Seoul announced on Sunday it had reached a deal with Washington that would allow it to nearly triple the range of its missiles to better cope with North Korean missile and nuclear threats. Yesterday, North Korea called the deal a “product of another conspiracy of the master and the stooge” to “ignite a war” against the North.
In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, an unidentified spokesman at the National Defense Commission said the North would bolster its military preparedness.
“We do not hide ... the strategic rocket forces are keeping within the scope of strike, not only the bases of the puppet forces and the US imperialist aggression forces’ bases in the inviolable land of Korea, but also Japan, Guam and the US mainland,” the spokesman said.
The South Korean Defense Ministry said yesterday it had no official comment on the North’s statement, but Seoul and Washington have repeatedly said they have no intention of attacking North Korea.
North Korean long-range rockets are believed to have a range of up to about 6,700km, putting parts of Alaska within reach, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry, but its spotty record in test launches raises doubts about whether it is capable of an attack.
Although North Korea is believed to have a small nuclear arsenal, experts do not believe it has mastered the miniaturization technology required to mount a nuclear weapon on a long-range rocket.
It is unusual for the North to say its missiles are capable of striking the US, but Pyongyang has often threatened to attack South Korea and the US in times of tension. It often does not follow through, but its deadly 2010 artillery strikes on a South Korean island came after it issued a threat to retaliate against South Korean military drills.
Under the new deal with the US, South Korea will be able to possess ballistic missiles with a range of up to 800km. South Korea will continue to limit the payload to 500kg for ballistic missiles with an 800km range, but it will be able to use heavier payloads for missiles with shorter ranges.
A previous 2001 accord had barred South Korea from deploying missiles with a range of more than 300km and a payload of more than 500kg.