Seoul, South Korea ( Associated Press) — North Korea said on Monday that leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to develop a more powerful means of attack, days after the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile launch in more than four years.
The statement suggests North Korea may soon conduct additional launches or even test nuclear equipment as it presses to modernize its arsenal and increase pressure on the Biden administration while nuclear diplomacy remains stalled. Last Thursday, the North performed its 12th round of weapons testing this year, launching the newly developed, long-range Hwasong-17, which analysts say will make it the most difficult to reach anywhere in the US mainland. was designed.
Read more: North Korea is testing new ICBMs and US warns more are to come
According to the official Korean Central News Agency, during a photo session with scientists and others involved in the Hwaseong-17 test, Kim expressed his resolve to build up the country’s attack capability to deal with threats.
“Only when one is armed with tremendous striking capabilities, tremendous military power that cannot be stopped by anyone, can one prevent war, guarantee the security of the country and control and control all threats and blackmail by imperialists.” Can control,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying.
KCNA said Kim said North Korea would develop more “powerful means of attack” and expressed his confidence and hope that his country would “further strengthen the country’s nuclear war deterrence.”
North Korea said the Hwaseong-17 flew to a maximum altitude of 6,248 kilometers (3,880 mi) and traveled 1,090 kilometers (680 mi) during a 67-minute flight before landing in the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan. Outside experts said that if the missile is fired on a standard trajectory, more flat than the test angle, it could fly up to 15,000 kilometers (9,320 mi), enough to reach the US mainland and anywhere beyond. Is.
Considered to be approximately 25 meters (82 ft) long, the Hwaseong-17 is the North’s longest-range weapon and, by some estimates, the world’s largest road-mobile ballistic missile system. Its size suggests that the missile is meant to carry multiple nuclear warheads, given that the North already has a single-warhead ICBM that can hit most of the US as well.
Watch: Why North Korea’s Recent Missile Tests Are Concerning US Officials
US-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to denuclearize in return for economic and political gains has largely stalled since 2019. The Biden administration has urged North Korea to return to talks without preconditions, but Pyongyang has responded that Washington must first give up its hostilities. Have taken steps to expand your arsenal of weapons.
Some experts say Kim may soon conduct another ICBM launch, launch of a satellite-carrying rocket or test a nuclear device as he seeks to perfect his weapons technology, increase pressure on the United States and garner stronger internal royalties. works for.
On Monday, South Korea reiterated previous assessments that there are signs North Korea is restoring already demolished tunnels at its underground nuclear test site. Lee Jong-joo, a spokesman for Seoul’s unification ministry, said a nuclear test by North Korea would be “a serious threat” to international security and that the North should immediately stop any related acts and return to talks.
The Hwaseong-17 liftoff was the North’s most serious weapons launch since the test of the first developed ICBM in November 2017. Its last nuclear test, its sixth overall, was in September 2017.