North Korea warned the world that it can test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from any location within the country. On January 1, an unnamed spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said they can launch an ICBM “anytime and anywhere” that Kim Jong Un pleases. North Korean officials blame the US and its hostile policies against them for escalating the conflict. The US also conceded that the nuclear capabilities of North Korea represent a real threat. “We only would shoot them down … if it was threatening, that is if it were coming toward our territory or the territory of our friends and allies,” US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.
US Concedes “Qualitative” Improvement of North Korean Nuclear Capbilities
And then, on January 5, the US also commented that North Korea’s nuclear capability shows a “qualitative” improvement. The refinement of their nuclear program is due to the unprecedented number of tests carried out last year. These tests received the ire of the US and its allies, Yahoo News reported.
Although North Korea has made significant progress, it will take them years to perfect a nuclear weapon. So far, North Korea is busy developing rocket engines, ICBM heat shields, and technology to guide the rockets upon re-entry.
US president-elect Donald Trump commented on this via his Twitter account. He said, “It won’t happen!” regarding the ICBM test. Also, the US can protect against an attack, should it happen, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. Anti-ICBM facilities around the world and diplomatic pressure could de-escalate the militarization.
South Korea Reacts
On Monday, Moon Sang-gyun, South Korea defense ministry spokesman said the ICBM threat is a “provocative announcement.” He said Pyongyang would receive stronger sanctions if it were to launch an ICBM. Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said there is no evidence yet of launch preparations. Meanwhile, North Korea maintains its stance. “Anyone who wants to deal with the DPRK would be well advised to secure a new way of thinking, after having clear understanding of it,” the spokesman said, according to KCNA.
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