North Korea leader Kim Jong Un on Friday said Pyongyang is close to completing its nuclear armament, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Saturday, during a test launch of the Hwasong-12 rocket.
The report came a day after reports that the North had launched a ballistic missile over Japan from Sunan, the country’s largest commercial airport.
KCNA said Kim had guided the “launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12″ on Friday and that the missile was now operationally ready.
Kim said Pyongyang had developed nuclear weapons and missiles in spite of UN sanctions, which, he said, “have lasted for decades.”
“We should clearly show the big power chauvinists how our state attains the goal of completing its nuclear force despite their limitless sanctions and blockade,” Kim said, according to the KCNA.
State media said the North Korean leader had stressed “the need to put an end to them with all-state efforts… underlining the need to put an end to them with the all-state efforts as it has nearly reached the terminal.”
Kim also said Friday’s missile launch had “very great meaning in increasing the combat power of the nuclear force attained its aim.”
The leader also said that United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2375 – which was approved on Monday – was part of a plan by great powers to bring the DPRK “to our knees.”
Kim reiterated that the “final goal is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S.” – comments also made by the DPRK Foreign Ministry in a report on Wednesday.
Kim also said the goal of the test was to “make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military options for the DPRK,” and urged officials in the field of defense scientific research to “run at full speed” to build up nuclear counterattack capabilities.
“The launching drill was conducted with the aim of calming down the belligerence of the U.S. which has recently cried out for using military muscle against the DPRK.”
Chad O’Carroll, Managing Director of Korea Risk – which owns and manages NK News – said the fact the missile was launched from a transport erector launcher (TEL) was significant.
“In photos of prior Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 launches, the missiles were launched from remote stands instead of from the TELs, which North Korea has a fixed and low stock of,” he said. “This was presumably as an insurance against the emerging missile technologies from catastrophically exploding upon launch.”
“The fact the missile was launched from the TEL means engineers are much more confident about the design now, which suggests it is getting close to entering the mass production phase. This happened after just two successful tests of the Pukguksong-2 earlier his year according to state media.”
State media said the ballistic missile had “crossed the sky above Hokkaido of Japan along the preset flight track and accurately hit the preset target waters in the Pacific.”
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reported in the aftermath of the launch that the missile traveled around 3700 km at a maximum altitude of around 770 km.
Friday morning’s launch is North Korea’s first since its sixth nuclear test on September 3.
Meanwhile, the UNSC held an emergency meeting in New York in response to Friday’s missile test and released a press statement.
“The Security Council… emphasized the vital importance of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea immediately showing sincere commitment to denuclearization through concrete action and stressed the importance of working to reduce tensions in the Korean Peninsula and beyond,” the UNSC said in a statement.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday said that dialogue with North Korea was now “impossible” and that Seoul has the military ability to make the DPRK “unable to recover,” at a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC).
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)