North Korea said Saturday leader Kim Jong Un vowed to complete his nuclear weapons program in the face of strengthening sanctions after he inspected a powerful new intermediate-range missile that was fired over Japan.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency carried Kim's comments a day after US and South Korean militaries detected the missile launch from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
It traveled 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) before landing into the northern Pacific Ocean. It was the country's longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile.
The North has confirmed the missile as an intermediate range Hwasong-12, which it also launched over Japan on 29 August.
The KCNA said Kim expressed great satisfaction over the launch, which he said verified the “combat efficiency and reliability” of the missile and the success of efforts to increase its power.
Kim also said the country, despite "limitless" international sanctions, has nearly completed the building of its nuclear weapons force and called for "all-state efforts" to reach the goal and obtain a "capacity for nuclear counterattack the US cannot cope with."
Amid international condemnations of the test, the UN Security Council would be meeting to discuss the launch at the request of the United States and Japan, diplomats said.
Russia Condemns Missile Launch
The missile launch was condemned by Russia as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused North Korea of threatening the entire world.
Addressing the media, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Pesko said:
Russia is deeply concerned by the latest provocative launches which lead to a further escalation of tensions on the peninsula. We firmly condemn the continuation of such provocative actions.
Moreover, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agreed in a phone call that resuming direct talks with North Korea was the only way to resolve tensions over its nuclear programme, the Kremlin said.
The North’s launch comes a day after the North threatened to sink Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a UN Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions against it for its 3 September nuclear test.
The North previously launched a ballistic missile from Sunan on 29 August which flew over Japan's Hokkaido island and landed in the Pacific waters.
S Korea Says N Korea Provocations Will Result in More Isolation
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Friday North Korea’s latest launch of a missile over Japan will only result in further diplomatic and economic isolation for the North, and officials said Moon had also warned of possible new threats.
President Moon ordered officials to closely analyse and prepare for new possible North Korean threats like EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) and biochemical attacks.Moon’s spokesman Park Su-hyun
Earlier this month, North Korea said it was developing a hydrogen bomb that can carry out an EMP attack.
Experts disagree on whether the North would have the capability to mount such an attack, which would involve setting off a bomb in the atmosphere that could cause major damage to power grids and other infrastructure.
(With inputs from Reuters and AP.)
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