North Korea appears to be preparing to launch a ballistic missile– perhaps an ICBM, South Korean media reported Monday.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said North Korea appeared to be scheming a future launch to show off its claimed ability to target the United States with atomic weapon, though it was unclear when this might happen.
Chang Kyung-soo, an official with South Korea’s Defense Ministry, told lawmakers that Seoul was find preparations in the North for an ICBM test but didn’t provide details about how officers had reached that evaluation.
Following U.S. warnings to North Korea of a “massive military response, ” South Korea on Monday fired missiles into the sea to simulate an attack on the North’s main nuclear test site a day after Pyongyang detonated its largest ever nuclear test explosion.
The heated terms from the United States and the military maneuvers in South Korea are becoming familiar responses to North Korea’s rapid, as-yet unchecked quest of a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles that can strike the United States.
The most recent, and perhaps most dramatic, advancement came Sunday in an underground exam of what leader Kim Jong Un’s government claimed was a hydrogen bomb, the North’s sixth nuclear test since 2006.
Chang also said the yield from the latest nuclear detonation appeared to be about 50 kilotons, which would mark a “significant increase” from North Korea’s past nuclear tests.
In a series of tweets, President Trump threatened to halt all trade with countries doing business with the North, a veiled warning to China, and faulted South Korea for what he called “talk of appeasement.”
South Korea’s military said its live-fire exercise was meant to “strongly warn” Pyongyang. The drill involved F-1 5 fighter jets and the country’s land-based “Hyunmoo” ballistic missile firing into the Sea of Japan.
The target was defined considering the distance to the North’s test site and the exercise was aimed at practicing accuracy ten-strikes and cutting off reinforcements, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Each new North Korean missile and nuclear exam dedicates Pyongyang’s scientists invaluable information that allows big leaps in ability. North Korea is thought to have a growing arsenal of nuclear bombs and has expended decades trying to perfect a multistage, long-range missile to eventually carry smaller versions of those bombs.
Both diplomacy and severe sanctions have failed to check the North’s decades-long procession to nuclear mastery.
In Washington, Trump, asked by a reporter if he would assault the North, said: “We’ll see.” No U.S. military action seemed imminent, and the immediate focus appeared to be on ratcheting up economic penalties, which have had little effect thus far.
In briefs remarks after a White House meeting with Trump and other national security officials, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters that, “We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, ” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said after fulfilling Trump and his national security team. “But as I told, we have many alternatives to do so.”
Mattis said the U.S. will answer any menace from the North with a “massive military reply — a reaction both effective and overwhelming.”
Mattis also said the international community is unified in demanding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and that Kim should know Washington’s commitment to Japan and South Korea is unshakeable.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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