Under Mr. Kim’s watch, North Korea has maintained a torrid pace in weapons tests, including its most powerful nuclear test to date on Sept. 3 and two recent flight tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike deep into the United States mainland if perfected.
The North’s news agency, the Korean Central News Agency, said Mr. Kim expressed great satisfaction over Friday’s missile test, which he said verified the “combat efficiency and reliability” of the missile and the success of efforts to increase its power.
While the English version of the KCNA report was less straightforward, the Korean version said Mr. Kim declared that the missile was operationally ready. He vowed to complete his nuclear weapons program in the face of new and stronger international sanctions, the news agency said.
Photographs published by North Korea’s state news media showed the missile being fired from a truck-mounted launcher and a smiling Mr. Kim clapping and raising his fist while celebrating from an observation point. It was the first time that North Korea showed the missile being launched directly from a vehicle, which experts said indicated confidence about the mobility and reliability of the system. In previous tests, North Korea used trucks to transport and erect the Hwasong-12s, but moved the missiles onto separate firing tables before launching them.
Mr. Kim also said the North, despite “limitless” international sanctions, had 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 U.S. cannot cope with.”
“As recognized by the whole world, we have made all these achievements despite the U.N. sanctions that have lasted for decades,” the news agency quoted Mr. Kim as saying.
Mr. Kim said North Korea’s final goal “is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about a military option” for North Korea.
He indicated that more missile tests would be forthcoming, saying that all future drills should be “meaningful and practical ones for increasing the combat power of the nuclear force” to establish an order in the…