North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed today his nation will “demonstrate its mettle to the US” and never put its weapons programs up for negotiations, a day after successfully testing its first intercontinental ballistic missile. The hard line suggests that North Korea will conduct more weapons tests until it perfects nuclear-armed missiles capable of striking anywhere in the United States. Analysts say Kim’s government believes nuclear weapons are key to its survival and could be used to wrest concessions from the United States. Tuesday’s ICBM launch, confirmed by US and South Korean officials, was a milestone in North Korea’s efforts to develop long-range nuclear-armed missiles. But the North isn’t there yet, and many analysts say it needs more tests to perfect such an arsenal.
South Korea President Moon Jae-in said today that the world should look at tougher sanctions against the North and insisted the problem must be solved peacefully.
Speaking through an interpreter in Berlin before the Group of 20 summit, Moon called the test “a big threat and provocation” and that there should be consideration of “more intensive possibilities of sanctions.”
Worry also spread in Washington and at the United Nations, where the United States, Japan and South Korea requested an emergency U.N. Security Council session today. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US response would include “stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable,” using the acronym for the nation’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
In a show of force, US and South Korean troops fired “deep strike” precision missiles off South Korea’s east coast today. South Korea’s military later released previously shot video showing the test-firing of sophisticated South Korean missiles and a computer-generated image depicting a North Korean flag in flames with the backdrop of a major building in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.
North Korean state media described leader Kim as “feasting his eyes” on the ICBM, which was said to be capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, before its launch. “With a broad smile on his face,” Kim urged his scientists to “frequently send big and small ‘gift packages’ to the Yankees,” it said, an apparent reference to continuing the stream of nuclear and missile tests Kim has ordered since taking power in late 2011.