Kim Jong-un says missile test is 'gift' to 'American b******s' on Independence Day as US warns of 'new threat to world'
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un taunted the US on Wednesday after carrying out an intercontinental ballistic missile 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 of marked the "final step" in creating a "confident and powerful nuclear state that can strike anywhere on Earth".
The US "attempts to test our determination and ignores our warnings", the state-run Korea Central News Agency 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 say is 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.
In a show of force, US and South Korean troops fired missiles into the waters off South Korea, with Seoul saying the ballistic missile drill was aimed at striking the North's leadership.
"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 on Wednesday 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 meeting is expected to take place on Wednesday afternoon.
The US tracked the missile’s path for 37 minutes. Experts said a flatter trajectory might give it a range of approximately 4,160 miles – an improvement on previous models and one that would put Alaska within reach.
Pyongyang still faces significant challenges in developing targeting systems and in scaling its nuclear weapons so they can be delivered by missile.
Russia and China have sought to defuse tension by suggesting Pyongyang halt nuclear and missile tests while the US and South Korea refrain from large-scale military exercises.
The joint statement, issued after talks between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, called the launch “unacceptable”, but 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.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said: “This is yet another reminder of the grave danger that North Korea poses to her neighbours, particularly Japan and South Korea, who are our friends and allies.”