Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un boasted that the recently tested intercontinental ballistic missile was another “reliable and maximum capacity” weapon to counter US military threats, state media reported on Saturday. The United States responded to the North’s weapons launch 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 the neighbors said they had detected the launch of an ICBM that showed the potential to reach anywhere in the United States.

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KCNA said Kim watched the launch with his wife Ri Sol Ju and their “beloved daughter”, as well as senior officials. State media photos showed Kim walking hand-in-hand with his daughter, who was dressed in white, as they watched the giant missile being loaded onto a launch truck. It is the first time that North Korea has released a photo of Kim’s daughter. Observers say Kim’s observation of the weapons launch with his family suggests he is emboldened by his advanced nuclear program.

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

READ MORE: The US, South Korea and Japan are promising a coordinated response to the North Korean threat

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

“The test firing clearly proved the reliability of the new large strategic weapon system to represent (North Korea’s) strategic forces and its powerful combat performance as the strongest strategic weapon in the world,” KCNA said.

“Kim Jong Un solemnly declared that if the enemies continue to pose threats (to North Korea) by frequently carrying out nuclear attacks, our party and government will resolutely respond to nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons and to full confrontation with all-out confrontation,” KCNA said.

Click to play video: 'Japan Condemns North Korea After 2 Missiles Launched Into Eastern Waters'

Japan condemns North Korea after 2 missiles launched into eastern waters

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

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US B-1B bombers took part in separate joint exercises with South Korean and Japanese warplanes on Saturday in response to North Korea’s ICBM missile launch. South Korean and Japanese officials said their exercises with U.S. bombers reaffirmed their shared defense stances.

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

On Friday, the US military held separate air exercises with South Korean and Japanese forces. South Korea’s military said it also staged its own drills on Friday simulating airstrikes against North Korea’s mobile missile launchers.

Click to play video: 'North Korea fires ballistic missile near South Korean waters'

North Korea fired a ballistic missile near South Korean waters

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 is not clear whether he can impose new sanctions on North Korea as 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 banned ballistic missile tests earlier this year.

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US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson condemned Friday’s launch and said the United States would take “all necessary measures” to guarantee the security of its territory and South Korea and Japan. Vice President Kamala Harris met separately with the leaders of those countries and Australia, Canada and New Zealand who were participating in 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 the potential warhead, the missile has a range of more than 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), “in which case it can cover the entire mainland of the United States.”

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The US warns of a possible North Korean nuclear or missile test during Biden’s visit to Asia

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

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In recent months, North Korea has conducted dozens of short-range missile tests that it called simulations of nuclear attacks on South Korean and American targets. North Korea said its tests were intended to issue a warning to the United States and South Korea over their military training, which the North sees as a rehearsal for an invasion. Seoul and Washington have said their regular exercises are defensive in nature.

North Korea halted weapons launches about a week before it fired a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday. Ahead of that launch, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui threatened to launch a “fierce” military response to US moves to step up its security commitments to South Korea and Japan.

US President Joe Biden met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on November 13 on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Cambodia, issuing 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 a full range of capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

© 2022 The Associated Press