North Korea Says Nuke Push Complete as Entire U.S. in Range
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claimed a missile launch on Wednesday showed he can strike the entire U.S. with a nuclear weapon, signaling a new phase in his standoff with President Donald Trump.
North Korea “successfully” launched a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile with improved technology that can deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere in the U.S., the state-run Korean Central News Agency said. Kim watched the test and “declared with pride that now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force,” KCNA said.
Kim’s claims on his nuclear capabilities, yet to be verified independently, suggest he is seeking to push the U.S. into talks from a position of strength. Trump has threatened to use military force to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, which Kim says he needs to deter an American invasion, and the U.S has long said the regime must dismantle its weapons in order for negotiations to occur.
Trump struck a more measured tone after the launch compared with previous threats to unleash “fire and fury,” telling reporters “we will take care of that situation.” The United Nations Security Council, which has imposed sanctions on North Korea this year, plans to meet later Wednesday in New York.
“North Korea is saying the U.S. should acknowledge it as a nuclear state and shift its policy to dialogue,” said Koh Yu-hwan, who teaches North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. “Pyongyang’s following the Chinese model: obtain nuclear weapons and suggest co-existence to the U.S.”
No major power has said it will recognize North Korea as a nuclear state. China and Russia, two countries that Trump has singled out for supporting North Korea, have said they prefer dialogue to rein Kim in.