Tuesday 22 August 2017

North Korea taunts US over missile test 'gift'

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the testlaunch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14. Photo: Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the testlaunch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14. Photo: Reuters

Chris Graham

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un taunted the US yesterday after carrying out an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, saying it was a "gift" to "American b******s" on their independence day.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un taunted the US yesterday after carrying out an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, saying it was a "gift" to "American b******s" on their independence day.

The test of an ICBM on Tuesday was confirmed by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said it marked "a new escalation of the threat to the world".

It marks a milestone for North Korea's missile programme and heightens concern in Washington about Pyongyang's declared pursuit of a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the United States.

North Korea's Academy of Defence Science claimed the test marked the "final step" in creating a "confident and powerful nuclear state that can strike anywhere on Earth".

Warnings

US President Donald Trump leaving the White House with his wife Melania for the G20 summit in Germany. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
US President Donald Trump leaving the White House with his wife Melania for the G20 summit in Germany. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The US "attempts to test our determination and ignores our warnings", the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) cited Mr Kim as saying.

After personally overseeing the launch of the Hwasong-14 missile, KCNA reported, "he said American b******s would be not very happy with this gift sent on the July 4 anniversary".

Breaking into peals of laughter, it said, he "added that we should send them gifts once in a while to help break their boredom".

The North Korean leader, who said the missile looked "as handsome as a good-looking boy", said the country would not negotiate with the United States to give up its weapons programme until Washington abandoned its hostile policy against the North.

The launch of the missile, which experts said was capable of reaching Alaska, was a direct rebuke to US President Donald Trump's declaration in January that such a test "won't happen".

Condemning North Korea's actions, Mr Tillerson said the test "represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world".

He added that the United States "will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea".

Mr Tillerson called the Pyongyang government "a dangerous regime" and said the United States would seek "stronger measures" at the UN Security Council to hold the North Koreans accountable for the latest missile test.

"The deep strike precision capability enables the [South Korean]-US alliance to engage the full array of time-critical targets under all weather conditions," the US army said in a statement.

The Pentagon stated it was prepared to defend the US and its allies and to use all capabilities necessary against the growing North Korea threat.

South Korea's defence minister said yesterday he saw a high possibility of North Korea conducting a sixth nuclear test.

"North Korea's eventual goal is to weaponise its nuclear power, so I see a high chance that will happen," Defence Minister Han Min-koo told a parliamentary briefing in response to a question from a lawmaker about whether he believed North Korea would conduct a nuclear test soon.

"We know they're always prepared to conduct nuclear tests but so far we have not detected any unusual signs," Mr Han said.

The US Mission to the United Nations said Ambassador Nikki Haley had asked for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

The US tracked the missile's path for 37 minutes. Experts said a flatter trajectory might give it a range of almost 7,000km - an improvement on previous models and one that would put Alaska within reach.

Challenges

Russia and China have sought to defuse tension by suggesting Pyongyang halts nuclear and missile tests while the US and South Korea refrain from large-scale military exercises.

The joint statement, issued after talks between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping, called the launch "unacceptable".

But it also said North Korea had "sensible concerns" and urged the US not to deploy its Thaad missile system - designed to intercept projectiles launched from Pyongyang - on the Korean peninsula. (©Daily Telegraph London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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