Thu, Nov 30, 2017 - Page 1 News List

N Korea claims its missiles can strike anywhere in US

PRECISION STRIKES?Experts question whether Pyongyang’s missiles can survive the stress from re-entering the atmosphere or hit specific targets


A man walks past a television screen showing a graphic of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul yesterday.

Photo: AFP

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claimed that a missile launch yesterday showed he could strike the entire US with a nuclear weapon, signaling a new phase in his standoff with US President Donald Trump.

North Korea “successfully” launched a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with improved technology that can deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere in the US, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Kim watched the test and “declared with pride that now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force,” it said.

Kim’s claims on his nuclear capabilities, yet to be verified independently, suggest he is seeking to push the US into talks from a position of strength.

Trump has threatened to use military force to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear program, which Kim says he needs to deter a US invasion, and Washington has long said the regime must dismantle its weapons for negotiations to start.

Trump struck a more measured tone after the launch, compared with previous threats to unleash “fire and fury,” telling reporters “we will take care of that situation.”

The UN Security Council, which imposed sanctions on North Korea this year, planned to meet later yesterday in New York.

“North Korea is saying the US should acknowledge it as a nuclear state and shift its policy to dialogue,” said Koh Yu-hwan, who teaches North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. “Pyongyang’s following the Chinese model: obtain nuclear weapons and suggest co-existence to the US.”

No major power has said it will recognize North Korea as a nuclear state. China and Russia, two countries that Trump has singled out for supporting North Korea, have said they prefer dialogue to rein Kim in.

China opposed yesterday’s test and will continue to strictly uphold UN sanctions, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) said at a regular briefing.

He reiterated support for a proposal made with Russia, under which North Korea refrains from missile and nuclear tests, while the US and South Korea halt large-scale military exercises.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament it would be a mistake to recognize North Korea as a nuclear power.

Experts differ on when North Korea will pose a credible threat to the US, with estimates ranging from months to years. While the regime has made steady progress, the US and South Korea assess that its ballistic missiles still cannot survive the stress involved with re-entering the atmosphere or target specific locations.

Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera said that Tokyo was analyzing whether North Korea had that capability.

Japan said the ICBM flew for 53 minutes on a lofted trajectory and might have reached an altitude of more than 4,000km before landing about 250km off its northwest coast.

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said it flew higher than prior North Korean launches.

KCNA said the missile it fired showed accuracy in its target, speed correction mid-flight and the operation of a high-thrust engine.

“The test-fire also reconfirmed the control and stabilization technology, phase-separation and start-up technology, and the safety of warhead in the atmospheric reentry environment that had already been confirmed,” it said.

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