World War 3: North Korea Proves Nuclear Threat
Pyongyang appeared to refrain from conducting large-scale provocations, but the latest launch is likely to put Seoul and Washington’s policy toward the North’s regime to the test.
North Korea has taken a dangerous turn, over the weekend it said that a “large-size heavy nuclear warhead” can fit on its new ground-to-ground missile, threatening to launch a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the United States.
“The test fire was conducted with maximum angle of the projectile’s elevation in consideration of the safety of neighboring countries, with the aim of confirming the tactical specifications and technical characteristics of the new long-range strategic ballistic rockets capable of loading powerful heavy-weight nuclear warheads,” KCNA announced.
According to Pyongyang, the launch has enabled testing in “actual flight conditions” the missile’s “stabilization, structural, pressurization and launch systems,” as well as “reliability of the rocket’s engine” and its integrity “in the harsh reentry environment.”
“The launched rocket flew up to the maximum peak altitude of 2,111.5 kilometers along the scheduled flight orbit and precisely hit the target waters 787-kilometers away,” the communications ministry’s announcement read. The country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, led the launch of a new type of rocket, the report noted.
More analysis is needed to verify North Korea’s claim that it had successfully test-launched a ballistic missile, South Korea’s military said following KCNA’s announcement.
North Korea’s leader said in his New Year’s message that the country has entered the final stage of preparing to launch an ICBM.
South Korea’s military said more information is needed to verify the technical aspects of the missile, but it added that Pyongyang seems to have yet to master missile technology for “atmospheric reentry,” a key element in developing an ICBM.
Photos released by the North’s media showed that it looked like a missile unveiled at a military parade in April to mark the 105th birthday of late founder Kim Il-sung, experts said.
North Korea launched a new IRBM, known as Pukguksong-2 in North Korea, from the same site on Feb. 12. The missile is known to be developed with the technology applied to submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
After the White House said that North Korea has been a “flagrant menace for far too long,” US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Washington will not negotiate with Pyongyang unless it stops its hostile actions.
“Having a missile test is not the way to sit down with the president because he’s absolutely not going to do it,” Haley told ABC’s ‘This Week’ when asked about conditions for President Donald Trump’s meeting with the North’s leader. “I can tell you, he can sit there and say all the conditions he wants. Until he meets our conditions, we’re not sitting down with him.”
Late last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Trump administration is open to direct talks with North Korea as long as the agenda is right. On Saturday, Choi Sun-hee, the North Korean diplomat who manages relations with the US, also hinted that Kim Jong-un might negotiate with Trump’s team, “if the conditions are set.”
The latest missile test coincides with rising tensions in the region and a massive American military buildup there. In an attempt to deter Pyongyang from more nuclear and missile tests, the US has sent a group of American warships, led by an aircraft carrier, to the region. It has also been conducting war games with their regional allies. Last month, Washington also positioned elements of the THAAD anti-missile system on the Peninsula.
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