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

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has boasted that the newly tested intercontinental ballistic missile is a “reliable and highly capable” weapon to contain threats. of the US military, state media reported Saturday. The United States responded to the North’s missile attack by flying supersonic bombers in a show of force.

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

KCNA said Kim watched the broadcast with his wife Ri Sol Ju and their “beloved daughter” along with senior officials. State media photos showed Kim walking hand-in-hand with his daughter, who was wearing a white coat, as they watched a large missile being loaded onto a delivery truck. It is the first time North Korea has released a photo of Kim’s daughter. Observers say Kim did not witness the detonation with his family, suggesting he was motivated by his continuing nuclear program.

Friday’s launch was part of the North’s ongoing series of missile tests seen as an effort to expand its arsenal and increase its strength in future negotiations. Some foreign experts said the Hwasong-17 missile is still in development, but it is the North’s longest-range missile designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads to defeat US defenses.

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KCNA said the missile fired from Pyongyang International Airport reached an altitude of about 6,040 kilometers (3,750 miles) and flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) before landing. placed in international waters off the east coast of the country. .

“The test firing clearly demonstrated the reliability of the new weapon system to represent [North Korea’s] strategic strength and its strong combat effectiveness as the world’s most powerful weapon,” KCNA said.

“Kim Jong Un has firmly announced that if the enemies continue to pose threats to [North Korea]which tends to develop a nuclear attack method, our party and government will firmly aim at nuclear-armed nukes and face full-scale confrontation,” KCNA said.

Kim’s statement suggests that North Korea will continue its test activities while the United States seeks to strengthen its security commitments to its allies in South Korea and Japan. There are concerns that North Korea may soon conduct its first nuclear test in five years.

US B-1B fighter jets took part in joint exercises Saturday with South Korean and Japanese warplanes in response to North Korea’s ICBM launch. South Korean and Japanese officials have said that their drills with US bombers have confirmed their joint security posture.

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North Korea cares about the deployment of US B-1B bombers because they can carry more conventional weapons. Earlier this month, the US sent B-1B bombers to strike South Korea as part of exercises, the first such bombing mission in five years.

On Friday, the US military held a series of aerial exercises with the forces of South Korea and Japan. South Korea’s military said it had rescheduled its drills on Friday to fire anti-aircraft missiles at North Korean missile launchers.

The United Nations Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday morning regarding North Korea’s latest missile launch at Japan’s request. But it is unclear whether it would impose new sanctions on North Korea because China and Russia, the council’s two veto-wielding members, have opposed moves by the United States and allies to tighten sanctions on the North over its tests. banned magic arrows earlier this year. .

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

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Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Friday that depending on the severity of the potential war, the missile has a range of more than 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), “that is where it could cover the entire United States.”

The North’s nuclear and missile arsenal is shrouded in secrecy. Some experts say that North Korea is still years away from having an operational nuclear missile, saying that it has not yet provided the scientific evidence to ensure that the warheads survive the conditions of difficult to return to space. But others say North Korea may have already acquired such power based on the number of years spent on its nuclear program.

In recent months, North Korea has conducted several short-range missile tests that it has called a simulation of nuclear attacks on targets in South Korea and the US. North Korea has said its tests are intended to warn the United States and South Korea about their military training, which the North considers an attack exercise. Seoul and Washington have said their regular exercises are defensive in nature.

North Korea halted missile launches for about a week before firing a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday. Ahead of the operation, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui threatened to launch a “severe” military response to US moves 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 meeting in Cambodia, issued a joint statement strongly condemning North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreeing to work together to strengthen deterrence. Biden 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 report.

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