North Korea’s Kim boasts new ICBM as US flies bombers

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has boasted that the latest missile test is the “most reliable and powerful” weapon against the US military, state media reported Saturday. The United States responded to the North’s missile launch by dropping high-powered bombs in a show of force.

North Korea’s Central News Agency said Kim oversaw the launch of the Hwasong-17 missile, a day after neighbors said they had detected the launch of an ICBM that showed it could reach anywhere in the United States.

KCNA said Kim witnessed the inauguration with his wife Ri Sol Ju and “their daughter” and officials. Pictures on state media showed Kim walking hand-in-hand with her daughter, who was wearing a white shirt, as they looked at a large missile mounted on a cargo truck. This is the first time North Korea has published a portrait of Kim’s daughter. Onlookers say Kim’s sighting of missile launchers with his family is a sign of his boldness with his nuclear program going forward.

Friday’s launch was part of an ongoing test by the North that is seen as an attempt to expand its arsenal and increase its influence in future negotiations. Some foreign experts have said that the Hwasong-17 missile is still under development, but it is the North’s longest-range missile designed to carry more nuclear warheads to defeat US defense systems.

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KCNA said the missile, which was fired from Pyongyang’s international airport, had a range of about 6,040 kilometers (3,750 miles) and flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) before landing in international waters off the country’s east coast. . .

“Fire tests confirmed the reliability of the new large-scale military equipment to stand [North Korea’s] powerful weapons and its powerful fighting equipment as the most powerful weapon in the world,” KCNA said.

“Kim Jong Un announced that if the enemy continues to threaten [North Korea]which often leads to nuclear weapons, our party and government will take decisive action against nuclear weapons and all-out confrontation,” KCNA said.

Kim’s comments indicate that North Korea will continue its test activities as the United States seeks to strengthen the security commitment of its allies in South Korea and Japan. There are concerns that North Korea will soon conduct its first nuclear test in five years.

US B-1B bombers took part in exercises on Saturday with South Korean and Japanese warplanes in response to North Korea’s ICBM launch. Officials in South Korea and Japan say their tests with US missiles will also prove their security posture.

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North Korea is concerned about the deployment of the US B-1B bombers because they can carry large loads of conventional weapons. Earlier this month, the US sent B-1B bombers over South Korea as part of military exercises, the first such bombing mission in five years.

On Friday, the US military held a separate exercise with the South Korean and Japanese militaries. South Korea’s military said it staged a drill on Friday simulating a North Korean anti-aircraft missile attack.

The UN Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting Monday morning on North Korea’s latest missile launch at Japan’s request. But it is not clear whether it will impose new sanctions on North Korea because China and Russia, which are members of the council, have opposed moves by the United States and its allies to tighten sanctions on the North over its banned missile test earlier this year. .

US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson condemned Friday’s move and said the United States would take “all necessary measures” to ensure the security of its territories as well as South Korea and Japan. Vice President Kamala Harris met separately with the leaders of these countries as well as those of Australia, Canada and New Zealand who were at a regional meeting in Bangkok to discuss a common response to North Korea.

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Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Friday that based on the weight of the warhead, the missile had a range of more than 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), “where it can cover the entire United States.”

The North’s nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons are hidden. Some experts say North Korea is still years away from having an operational nuclear weapon, saying it has yet to prove the technologies to ensure the weapons can survive the challenges of reentry into space. But others say North Korea may have already acquired such capabilities due to the number of years it has spent developing its nuclear program.

In recent months, North Korea has carried out a number of short-range tests that it has called prelude to a nuclear attack on South Korea and the US. North Korea has said the test was intended to warn the United States and South Korea about their military exercises, which the North sees as an attack attempt. Seoul and Washington have said their regular exercises are defensive in nature.

North Korea suspended its missile program for a week before launching a short-range missile on Thursday. Before that, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui threatened to respond with “military” threats to US actions in order to strengthen its security commitment to South Korea and Japan.

US President Joe Biden met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts Nov. 13 on the sidelines of a regional conference in Cambodia, issued a joint statement strongly condemning North Korea’s recent weapons tests and agreed to work together to promote a ban. Biden also reaffirmed the US commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with full capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

Associated Press reporter Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this story.

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