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The situation with North Korea is beginning to get dicey, at least if you believe the news from the communist-oppressed nation. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). North Korea announced today that it has successfully launched a newly developed mid- to long-range missile that can carry a “large heavy nuclear warhead.” Leader Kim Jong-un said that more nuclear and missile tests are forthcoming and warned that these weapons could reach the U.S, mainland though an aerospace expert told Reuters today that the missile more likely would hit the U.S. airbase in Guam.
The Hwasong-12 missile flew 490 miles and topped a maximum altitude of 1,310 miles. State media report that the rocket “verified the homing feature of the warhead under the worst re-entry situation and accurate performance of detonation system.”
Following the test, a jubilant Kim proceeded to hug the officials in charge of rocket research, telling them that “they worked hard to achieve a great thing.”
Pyongyang received widespread censure, most notably from Washington, Moscow, Seoul and Tokyo.
President Donald Trump told Bloomberg News on Monday that he would meet with Kim over the country’s nuclear weapons program:
If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it. If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.
Most political people would never say that, but I’m telling you under the right circumstances I would meet with him. We have breaking news.
The KCNA published official state commentary, opining that the U.S. is “seriously mistaken” if it thinks the North Korean government will compromise:
The Trump administration would be well advised to learn how humbly the preceding administrations were put in the awkward position of lowering the fist of pressure they had raised before the DPRK.
Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. would negotiate with Pyongyang if the government would begin to eliminate its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. The U.S. has failed to maintain diplomatic relations with North Korea – the Trump administration labeled former President Barack Obama’s wait-and-see approach as a failed policy.
Speaking at a state visit to China, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the missile test “dangerous,” but warned against further intimidation, reports CNN:
I would like to confirm that we are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear states, including through the Korean Peninsula. We are against it and consider it counterproductive, damaging, dangerous.
In an apparent jab against the U.S., Putin added that “intimidating North Korea is unacceptable.”
In recent years, Moscow and Pyongyang have started to build on their diplomatic ties. Both governments have agreed to a wide array of economic policies, including allowing new ferries to run between the countries. Putin visited North Korea in 2000, when he met with Kim Jong-il.
North Korea’s recent quest to strengthen its nuclear capabilities comes one week after South Korea elected a new president. Moon Jae-in is a liberal who has vowed to initiate open dialogue with its northern neighbor.
Yoong Young-chan, South Korean Senior Presidential Secretary, said the launch complicates plans to start talks:
The president expressed deep regret over the fact that this reckless provocation … occurred just days after a new government was launched in South Korea. The president said we are leaving open the possibility of dialogue with North Korea, but we should sternly deal with a provocation to prevent North Korea from miscalculating.
The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss the missile launch.
Despite initial suspicion of exaggerated state media propaganda, observers say that the weekend missile test suggested a significant technological advancement. After a plethora of failed missile tests, outsiders note that the Hwasong-12 test-fire flew higher and for an extended length than anything else in North Korea’s arsenal.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry stated that additional analysis is needed, but a spokesperson expressed doubt that North Korea has produced re-entry technology. Japanese officials disclosed that the missile flew for thirty minutes and landed in the Sea of Japan.
Experts say that Hwasong-12 could reach the U.S. territory of Guam, a small island in the Pacific Ocean. It is home to Andersen Air Force Base, where the U.S. Air Force alternates heavy bombs, such as the B-1s and the B-52s. Recently, American soldiers carried out drills alongside Japanese and European troops, which were meant to send a direct message to North Korea.
U.S. military analysts fear that North Korea is about three years away from creating ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear weapons that could reach U.S. mainland.