North Korea Will Test Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, Kim Says

© KCNA/Reuters “We have reached the final stage in preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic rocket,” North Korea’s Kim Jong-un said Sunday.
North Korea will test intercontinental ballistic missile

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said on Sunday that his country was making final preparations to conduct its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile — a bold statement less than a month before the inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Although North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests in the past decade and more than 20 ballistic missile tests in 2016 alone, and although it habitually threatens to attack the United States with nuclear weapons, the country has never flight-tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM.

In his annual New Year’s Day speech, which was broadcast on the North’s state-run KCTV on Sunday, Mr. Kim spoke proudly of the strides he said his country has made in its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. He said that North Korea would continue to bolster its weapons programs as long as the United States remained hostile and continued its joint military exercises with South Korea.

“We have reached the final stage in preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic rocket,” he said.

Analysts in the region have said that Mr. Kim might conduct another weapons test in coming months, taking advantage of leadership changes in the United States and South Korea. Mr. Trump will be sworn in on Jan. 20. In South Korea, President Park Geun-hye, whose powers were suspended in a Parliamentary impeachment on Dec. 9, is waiting for the Constitutional Court to rule on whether she should be formally removed from office or reinstated.

If North Korea conducts a long-range missile test in coming months, it will test Mr. Trump’s new administration; despite years of increasingly harsh sanctions, North Korea has been advancing toward Mr. Kim’s professed goal of arming his isolated country with the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead at the United States.

Mr. Kim’s speech on Sunday indicated that North Korea may test-launch a long-range rocket several times this year to complete its ICBM program, said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute of South Korea. The first of such tests could come even before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Mr. Cheong said.

“We need to take note of the fact that this is the first New Year’s speech where Kim Jong-un mentioned an intercontinental ballistic missile,” he said.

In his speech, Mr. Kim did not comment on Mr. Trump’s election.

Doubt still runs deep that North Korea has mastered all technology needed to build a reliable ICBM. But analysts in the region said that the North’s launchings of three-stage rockets to put satellites into orbit in recent years showed that the country had cleared some key technological hurdles.

After the North’s satellite launch in February, South Korean defense officials said that the North’s Unha rocket used in the launch, if successfully reconfigured as a missile, could fly more than 7,400 miles with a warhead of 1,100 to 1,300 pounds — far enough to reach the West Coast of the United States.

North Korea has deployed Rodong ballistic missiles that can reach most of South Korea and Japan, while it has had a spotty record in test-launching the Musudan, its intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range long enough to reach American military bases in the Pacific, including those on Guam.

The North has also claimed a series of successes in testing various ICBM technologies, although its claimed cannot be verified and are often disputed by officials and analysts in the region.

It has said it could now make nuclear warheads small enough to fit onto a ballistic missile. It also claimed success in testing the re-entry technology that allows a long-range missile to return to the Earth’s atmosphere without breaking up.

Last April, North Korea reported the successful ground test of an engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile. At the time, Mr. Kim said the North “can tip new-type intercontinental ballistic rockets with more powerful nuclear warheads and keep any cesspool of evils in the Earth, including the U.S. mainland, within our striking range.”

On Sept. 9, the North conducted its fifth, and the most powerful, nuclear test. Mr. Kim later attended another ground test of a new long-range rocket engine, exhorting his government to prepare for another rocket launch as soon as possible. In November, the Security Council imposed new sanctions against the North.


North Korea Will Test Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, Kim Says

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said on Sunday that his country was making final preparations to conduct its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile — a bold statement less than a month before the inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Although North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests in the last decade and more than 20 ballistic missile tests in 2016 alone, and although it habitually threatens to attack the United States with nuclear weapons, the country has never flight-tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM.

In his annual New Year’s Day speech, which was broadcast on the North’s state-run KCTV on Sunday, Mr. Kim spoke proudly of the strides he said his country had made in its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. He said North Korea would continue to bolster its weapons programs as long as the United States remained hostile and continued its joint military exercises with South Korea.

“We have reached the final stage in preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic rocket,” he said.

Analysts in the region have said Mr. Kim might conduct another weapons test in coming months, taking advantage of leadership changes in the United States and South Korea. Mr. Trump will be sworn in on Jan. 20. In South Korea, President Park Geun-hye, whose powers were suspended in a Parliamentary impeachment on Dec. 9, is waiting for the Constitutional Court to rule on whether she should be formally removed from office or reinstated.

If North Korea conducts a long-range-missile test in coming months, it will test Mr. Trump’s new administration; despite years of increasingly harsh sanctions, North Korea has been advancing toward Mr. Kim’s professed goal of arming his isolated country with the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States.

Mr. Kim’s speech on Sunday indicated that North Korea may test-launch a long-range rocket several times this year to complete its ICBM program, said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute in South Korea. The first of such tests could come even before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Mr. Cheong said.

“We need to take note of the fact that this is the first New Year’s speech where Kim Jong-un mentioned an intercontinental ballistic missile,” he said.

In his speech, Mr. Kim did not comment on Mr. Trump’s election.

Doubt still runs deep that North Korea has mastered all the technology needed to build a reliable ICBM. But analysts in the region said the North’s launchings of three-stage rockets to put satellites into orbit in recent years showed that the country had cleared some key technological hurdles.

After the North’s satellite launch in February, South Korean defense officials said the Unha rocket used in the launch, if successfully reconfigured as a missile, could fly more than 7,400 miles with a warhead of 1,100 to 1,300 pounds — far enough to reach the West Coast of the United States.

North Korea has deployed Rodong ballistic missiles that can reach most of South Korea and Japan, but it has had a spotty record in test-launching the Musudan, its intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range long enough to reach American military bases in the Pacific, including those on Guam.

The North has also claimed a series of successes in testing various ICBM technologies, although its claims cannot be verified and are often disputed by officials and analysts in the region.

It has said it could now make nuclear warheads small enough to fit onto a ballistic missile. It also claimed success in testing the re-entry technology that allows a long-range missile to return to the Earth’s atmosphere without breaking up.

In April, North Korea reported the successful ground test of an engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile. At the time, Mr. Kim said the North “can tip new-type intercontinental ballistic rockets with more powerful nuclear warheads and keep any cesspool of evils in the Earth, including the U.S. mainland, within our striking range.”

On Sept. 9, the North conducted its fifth, and most powerful, nuclear test. Mr. Kim later attended another ground test of a new long-range rocket engine, exhorting his government to prepare for another rocket launch as soon as possible. In November, the United Nations Security Council imposed new sanctions against the North.


North Korea's Kim says close to test launch of ICBM

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Sunday that the isolated, nuclear-capable country was close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

North Korea tested ballistic missiles at an unprecedented rate during 2016, although some experts have said it is years away from developing an ICBM fitted with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the United States.

"Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing and ICBM rocket test launch preparation is in its last stage," Kim said during a televised New Year's Day speech.

The country has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The sanctions were tightened last month after Pyongyang conducted its fifth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 9.

A successful ICBM test launch would mark a significant step forward for secretive Pyongyang's weapons capability. ICBMs have a minimum range of about 5,500 km (3,418 miles), but some are designed to travel 10,000 km (6,214 miles) or further. California is roughly 9,000 km (5,592 miles) from North Korea.

However, North Korea has struggled to reliably deploy its intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missile, succeeding just once in eight attempted launches last year.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Anna Richey-Allen on Sunday called on North Korea "to refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric that threaten international peace and stability, and to make the strategic choice to fulfil its international obligations and commitments and return to serious talks."

She urged "All states to use every available channel and means of influence to make clear to the DPRK and its enablers that launches using ballistic missile technology are unacceptable, and take steps to show there are consequences to the DPRK's unlawful conduct."

The Musudan is designed to fly about 3,000 km (1,860 miles), posing a threat to South Korea and Japan, and possibly the U.S. territory of Guam.

South Korea's Defence Ministry declined to comment on whether North Korea would test launch an ICBM soon.

TRUMP REQUESTED NORTH KOREA BRIEFING

According to a senior U.S. intelligence official, President-elect Donald Trump's first, and at that time only, request for a special classified intelligence briefing was for one on North Korea and its nuclear weapons programme.

North Korea and its nuclear programme has also been of interest to retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Trump's choice for national security advisor and a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

An Chan-il, a former North Korean military officer who defected to the South and runs a think tank in Seoul, said Kim will gauge Trump's comments about his country for potential interest in dialogue and determine whether to try and conduct an ICBM test launch.

"If Trump comes in and the North does not get a good signal in terms of how the relationship between the two countries is going to go, that’ll give them another reason to do it," An said.

Kim also said that the North would continue to develop its pre-emptive nuclear strike capability if the United States and South Korea continue to conduct annual joint military exercises.

There are 28,500 U.S. troops based in South Korea, and North Korean state media often describes annual joint exercises as preparation for an attack.

In February, North Korea launched a satellite into space, which was widely seen as a test of long-range ballistic missile technology.

A senior U.S. military official said last month that North Korea appears able to mount a miniaturised nuclear warhead on a missile but is still struggling with missile re-entry technology necessary for longer range strikes.

Although it fired a variety of missile types last year, North Korea is not known to have test-launched a ballistic missile since October.

0 Response to "North Korea Will Test Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, Kim Says"