North Korea declared on Sunday that it can test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at any time, saying a hostile US policy is to blame for the nation’s arms development.
“The ICBM will be launched anytime and anywhere determined by the supreme headquarters of the DPRK,” the official KCNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.
“The US is wholly to blame for pushing the DPRK to have developed ICBM as it has desperately resorted to anachronistic policy hostile toward” Pyongyang, the spokesman was quoted as saying, Reuters reports.
The North is formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said on Jan. 1 that his nuclear-capable country was close to test-launching an ICBM.
Pyongyang has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The sanctions were tightened last month after it conducted its fifth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 9.
“Anyone who wants to deal with the DPRK would be well advised to secure a new way of thinking after having clear understanding of it,” the foreign ministry spokesman said, according to KCNA.
A US State Department spokesman said last week that Washington did not believe that North Korea was capable of mounting a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.
But Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Sunday that North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities and ballistic missile defense programs constituted a “serious threat” to the US and that America is prepared to shoot down a North Korean missile launch or test.
“We only would shoot them down … if it was threatening, that is if it were coming toward our territory or the territory of our friends and allies,” Carter said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
North Korea has been testing rocket engines and heat-shields for an ICBM while developing the technology to guide a missile after re-entry into the atmosphere following a liftoff, experts have said.
While Pyongyang is close to a test, it is likely to take some years to perfect the weapon, according to the experts.
Once fully developed, a North Korean ICBM could threaten the continental US, which is around 9,000 km from the North.
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