North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said Wednesday his country had achieved full nuclear statehood after what he said was the successful test of a new missile capable of striking anywhere in the United States.
The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch snapped a two-month pause in testing by the North and poses a new challenge to US President Donald Trump who has vowed such a capability “won’t happen”.
North Korean state television brought out Ri Chun-Hee, a star presenter who only appears for significant developments, to announce the landmark.
“Kim Jong-Un declared with pride that now we have finally realised the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power,” she said.
“The great success in the test-fire of ICBM Hwasong-15 is a priceless victory won by the great and heroic people of the DPRK,” she said, using the official abbreviated name for North Korea.
Wednesday’s missile was more sophisticated than any previously tested, state media said.
“The ICBM Hwasong-15 type weaponry system is an intercontinental ballistic rocket tipped with super-large heavy warhead which is capable of striking the whole mainland of the US,” the North’s official news agency KCNA said.
Pyongyang said the missile reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometres (2,800 miles) and splashed down 950 kilometres from its launch site.
At least one Western expert said the missile’s lofted trajectory suggested an actual range of 13,000 kilometres — enough to hit every major US city.
Trump, who recently announced fresh sanctions on Pyongyang and returned it to a US list of state sponsors of terror, was opaque in his immediate response, as the UN Security Council agreed to meet in an emergency session.
“I will only tell you that we will take care of it,” Trump said at the White House. “It is a situation that we will handle,” he added, without elaborating.
China, North Korea’s sole major ally and diplomatic protector expressed “grave concern and opposition” to the launch, and once again pressed its proposal that the North stop missile and nuclear tests in exchange for a freeze of US military exercises.
Washington has repeatedly rejected the suggestion.