North Korea’s Kim Shows off New ICBM as US Flies Bombers

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By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has boasted that a recently tested ICBM is another “reliable and maximum-capacity” weapon to counter US military threats, state media reported Saturday. The United States responded to the launch of weapons from the North by flying supersonic bombers in a show of force.

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

KCNA said Kim watched the launch with his wife Ri Sol Ju and his “beloved daughter” as well as senior officials. State media photos showed Kim walking hand in hand with her daughter, who was wearing a white coat, looking together at a huge missile loaded onto a launch truck. It is the first time that North Korea has published the photo of Kim’s daughter. Observers say Kim watching a weapons launch with his family suggests he is emboldened by the advancement of his nuclear program.

Friday’s launch was part of the North’s ongoing barrage of missile tests seen as an attempt to expand its arsenal and increase its leverage in future diplomacy. Some foreign experts said the Hwasong-17 missile is still under development, but it is North Korea’s longest-range ballistic weapon designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads to defeat US missile defense systems.

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KCNA said the missile fired from Pyongyang International Airport traveled to a maximum altitude of about 6,040 kilometers (3,750 miles) and flew a distance of about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) before landing in the predetermined area in international waters off the east coast of the country. .

“The fire test clearly demonstrated the reliability of the new main strategic weapon system to be representative of (North Korea’s) strategic forces and its powerful combat performance as the world’s strongest strategic weapon,” KCNA said.

“Kim Jong Un solemnly declared that if the enemies continue to pose threats to (North Korea), frequently introducing means of nuclear attack, our party and government will resolutely react to nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons and all-out confrontation with all-out confrontation.” , KCNA said.

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

US B-1B bombers participated in separate joint exercises with South Korean and Japanese warplanes on Saturday in response to the launch of North Korean ICBMs. South Korean and Japanese officials said their respective drills with the US bombers reaffirmed their combined defense postures.

North Korea is sensitive to the US deployment of B-1B bombers because they are capable of carrying a huge payload of conventional weapons. Earlier this month, the US sent B-1B bombers over South Korea as part of the exercises, in the first bomber flyover in five years.

On Friday, the US military conducted separate air exercises with the forces of South Korea and Japan. The South Korean military said it also conducted its own exercises on Friday simulating airstrikes against North Korean mobile missile launchers.

The UN Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday morning on North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch at Japan’s request. But it’s unclear whether he can impose new sanctions on North Korea because China and Russia, two of the council’s veto-wielding members, opposed moves by the United States and its allies to toughen sanctions against North Korea for their banned ballistic missile tests earlier this year. .

US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson condemned Friday’s launch, saying the US will take “all necessary steps” to ensure the security of its homeland and of South Korea and Japan. Vice President Kamala Harris met separately with leaders from those countries and from Australia, Canada and New Zealand who were attending a regional forum in Bangkok to discuss a joint response to North Korea.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Friday that depending on the weight of a potential warhead, the missile had a range greater than 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), “in which case it could cover the entire continental United States.”

The North’s nuclear and missile arsenals are shrouded in secrecy. Some experts say North Korea is still years away from possessing a working nuclear missile, saying it has yet to test technologies to ensure the warheads survive the harsh conditions of re-entry. But others say North Korea has likely already acquired such capabilities given the number of years spent on its nuclear program.

In recent months, North Korea has conducted dozens of short-range missile tests that it called simulated nuclear attacks against South Korean and US targets. North Korea said its tests were aimed at issuing a warning to the United States and South Korea about its military training that the North views as an invasion rehearsal. Seoul and Washington have said their regular exercises are defensive in nature.

North Korea halted weapons launches for about a week before firing a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday. Prior to that release, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui threatened to launch “fiercer” military responses to US steps to bolster its security commitment to South Korea and Japan.

US President Joe Biden met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Cambodia on November 13, issuing a joint statement that strongly condemned the recent Korean missile tests. North and agreed to work together to strengthen deterrence. Biden reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with a full range of capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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