North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claimed he could strike the entire continental U.S. after test-firing the regime’s second intercontinental ballistic missile within a month.
Friday’s unusual late-night launch drew condemnation from the U.S. and its allies, with the top American general calling his South Korean counterpart to discuss a potential military response. President Donald Trump said the test was reckless and dangerous, adding in a statement the U.S. “will take all necessary steps” to protect its territory.
“We have demonstrated our ability to fire our intercontinental ballistic rocket at any time and place and that the entire U.S. territory is within our shooting range,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said on Saturday, citing Kim. It said the test was part of the “final verification” of the Hwasong-14 missile’s technical capabilities, including its maximum range.
The ICBM test, which follows the first launch on July 4, raises tensions between major powers, with the U.S. accusing China and Russia of providing Kim cover to pursue his nuclear ambitions. Trump has previously expressed frustration at the pace of China’s efforts to rein in its neighbor and ally, which it supports with food and fuel sales.
While U.S. lawmakers have voted to send Trump legislation that would impose new sanctions on North Korea, the United Nations Security Council has struggled to reach agreement on potentially tighter penalties.
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“As the principal economic enablers of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development program, China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.
While the U.S. seeks a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Tillerson said, “we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea nor abandon our commitment to our allies and partners in the region.”
China opposes North Korea’s launch and its violations of Security Council resolutions, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a Saturday statement in the People’s Daily newspaper. He called on all parties to show restraint.
The Pentagon said the latest missile flew 1,000 kilometers, while South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it reached an altitude of about 3,700 kilometers — almost 1,000 kilometers higher than the prior test. Japan said the missile flew for…