Seoul, South Korea:
North Korea may have “more reserves” after successfully testing a ballistic missile between its largest continents this week, a senior White House official said Friday.
Thursday’s launch was the first time Pyongyang fired Kim Jong Un’s most powerful missile at full range since 2017.
It was conducted under Kim’s “direct guidance” and ensured his country was ready for a “long -standing confrontation” with the U.S., KCNA state media reported on Friday.
“We see this as part of a pattern of testing and provocation from North Korea … we think there are many more possibilities,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on an Air Force One plane.
The missile appears to have moved higher and farther than any previous ICBM tested by the nuclear-armed nation-including those designed to strike anywhere on the U.S. mainland.
Government media photos showed Kim, wearing his usual black leather jacket and dark sunglasses, walking across the runway in front of a large missile, with other images of him cheering and celebrating the launch of the test with a high -uniformed military liner.
– ‘Giant missile’ –
Known as the Hwasong-17, the giant ICBM was first introduced in October 2020 and was dubbed a “giant missile” by analysts.
It had never been successfully tested before, and the launch sparked immediate outrage from neighbors Pyongyang and the United States.
“The missile, launched at Pyongyang International Airport, traveled up to a maximum altitude of 6,248.5 km and flew a distance of 1,090 km for 4,052s before right about a pre-fixed area in open waters” in the Sea of Japan, the KCNA said.
The South Korean military has estimated Thursday’s launch distance to be 6,200 kilometers (3,900 miles)-much longer than the last ICBM, the Hwasong-15, which North Korea tested in November 2017.
The missile landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, sparking outrage from Tokyo, but KCNA said the test was conducted “in vertical launch mode” to allay neighboring safety concerns.
Following Thursday’s test, Washington imposed new sanctions on entities and persons in Russia and North Korea accused of “transferring sensitive items to North Korea’s missile program”.
The North is already under international sanctions for its weapons program, and the UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on the launch on Friday.
The European Union added a chorus of condemnation on Friday.
“This is a violation of several United Nations Security Council Resolutions and a serious threat to international and regional peace and security,” the bloc said in a statement, calling on Pyongyang to “refrain from any further action that could increase international or regional tensions.” .
– ‘Significant progress’ –
The test is a clear sign North Korea has made “significant qualitative progress” in its banned weapons program, said U.S. -based analyst Ankit Panda.
“What’s important about this ICBM is not how far it can go, but what it can carry, which is a range of warheads,” something North Korea has long coveted, he told AFP.
“North Korea is at the peak of increasing its threat to the United States significantly beyond the ICBM capabilities demonstrated in 2017.”
Various warheads will help North Korean missiles evade the U.S. missile defense system.
The North had conducted three ICBM tests before Thursday, the last of which was the Hwasong-15 in 2017.
Long -range and nuclear tests were paused when Kim and then -US president Donald Trump became embroiled in a diplomatic battle that collapsed in 2019. Since then talks have stalled.
Thursday’s launch, one of nearly a dozen North Korean weapons tests this year, marks a dramatic return to long -range testing.
It came just days after a week ago, possibly also the Hwasong-17, failed, exploding after launch.
– Reparation –
“The test also seems to ‘offset’ the failed missile launch last week – very good,” Soo Kim, RAND Corporation’s Policy Analyst and former CIA analyst, told AFP.
“The regime seems to be quite happy with the results of the test,” he added.
The country’s new ICBM launch comes at a difficult time for the region, with South Korea going through a presidential transition until May, and the U.S. disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried a picture of Kim who looked tired signing the paper on his desk, with the handwritten image of “I approved the test launch” written on top of the report.
“Kim Jong Un finally wants to establish himself as a leader who has successfully developed both nuclear weapons and ICBMs,” Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean studies scholar, told AFP.
“He’s almost desperate because without such military accomplishments, he really doesn’t do a lot of things,” he added, pointing to the remote country’s economy plagued by Covid and sanctions.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)