This article titled “North Korea missile test a ‘new threat to world’, says US amid show of military force” was written by Justin McCurry in Osaka, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 5th July 2017 00.14 UTC
The United States has ramped up pressure on North Korea after Tuesday’s successful intercontinental ballistic missile test, making a show of force off the Korean peninsula with a “precision firing” exercise and warning that any country harbouring North Korean workers was abetting Kim Jong-un’s regime.
The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, confirmed North Korea had conducted its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and called for global action to counter an “escalation of the threat” posed by the regime.
Kim Jong-un delivered his own message on Wednesday, with the state Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoting him as saying: “American bastards would be not very happy with this gift sent on the July 4 anniversary.”
The news agency claimed the missile was capable of carrying a “large, heavy nuclear warhead” that could survive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Kim was quoted as saying the North’s long confrontation with Washington had entered the “final stage” and that Pyongyang would not put its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles up for negotiation “unless the US hostile policy and nuclear threats come to an end completely”. A report in its state media said Kim urged his scientists to “frequently send big and small ‘gift packages’ to the Yankees”.
Tillerson warned that any country that hosted North Korean workers, or provided economic or military aid to Pyongyang, or failed to implement United Nations sanctions was “aiding and abetting a dangerous regime”.
He said in a statement: “The United States strongly condemns North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world. All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
He added that the US “will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea”.
The security council is expected to meet on Wednesday for an emergency closed-door meeting, with the US and other countries expected to seek agreement on tougher measures against Pyongyang. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are expected to address growing North Korean provocations at their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday.
The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, on Tuesday strongly condemned North Korea’s missile launch. “This action is yet another brazen violation of security council resolutions and constitutes a dangerous escalation of the situation,” he said.
Guterres stressed “the importance of maintaining the unity of the international community in addressing this serious challenge,” in a reference to US-Sino differences.
China is pushing for talks between world powers and North Korea on dismantling its nuclear program but the US maintains that Pyongyang must first halt its missile and nuclear tests.
South Korea and the US conducted a massive ballistic missile exercise early on Wednesday in what officials in Seoul said was a warning to Pyongyang. Forces from both countries fired a barrage of missiles, according to the joint chiefs of staff in Seoul.
The live-fire exercise was ordered by the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, who said it would demonstrate the allies’ determination to counter North Korean provocations with deeds and not just words of condemnation, South Korea media reported.
“President Moon said North Korea’s serious provocation required us to react with more than just a statement and that we need to clearly show our missile defence readiness to North Korea,” the presidential Blue House said in a statement carried by Yonhap news agency.
North Korea’s Academy of Defence Science said the missile reached an altitude of 2,802km (1,741 miles) and flew 933km. US Pacific Command confirmed the test and said it was a land-based, intermediate-range missile that flew for 37 minutes before splashing down in the Sea of Japan. It said the launch did not pose a threat to North America.
North Koreans, meanwhile, celebrated the ICBM launch in the capital Pyongyang.
Soon after Tuesday’s announcement that it had launched an ICBM a 38-year-old Pyongyang resident named Ri Song-gil said his country “can attack anywhere in the world”. He added: “Now, the time when the US could threaten the world with nuclear weapons has passed away.”
Kim Hye-ok, 27, said the launch was “extremely delightful news”, adding that North Korea “will march forward along our own way” despite international sanctions.
Questions remain about whether the North can miniaturise a nuclear weapon to fit a missile nosecone, or if it has mastered the technology needed for it to survive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. KCNA said Tuesday’s launch had verified “all the technological requirements including heat resistance and structural stability of the re-entry nosecone”, which it said was made of carbon composite.
“Under harsh conditions involving thousands of degrees of heat, pressure and tremors, the temperature inside the nose cone was stable between 25-45 degrees Celsius,” it said, adding the warhead “flew flawlessly and struck the target precisely”.
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