World

North Korea threatens ‘all-out’ nuclear retaliation to US provocation

A North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile is launched in this photo released on November 19, 2022 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) [KCNA via Reuters]

Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, has said that he will use nuclear weapons to respond to threats from the United States. He made this promise hours after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This is the latest escalation as the UN Security Council prepares to hold an emergency meeting to discuss Pyongyang’s actions.

On Monday, Japan, South Korea, and the US will ask the UN Security Council to meet to talk about North Korea’s latest missile launch.

North Korea tested what it said was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) called the Hwasong-17, which can travel up to 15,000 km (9,320 miles). This happened on Friday, just a few hours after threatening Washington with “fiercer military responses.”

“Kim Jong Un solemnly declared that if the enemies continue to pose threats … our party and government will resolutely react to nukes with nuclear weapons and to total confrontation with all-out confrontation,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang said on Saturday.

The Hwasong-17 missile that was launched on Friday was meant to be “the most powerful and absolute nuclear deterrence,” according to KCNA. The agency also called the missile “the strongest strategic weapon in the world.”

North Korea has always said that launching ballistic missiles is a good way to protect itself from what it says is a threat from the US military and its allies in South Korea that has been going on for decades.

Kim was at a missile launch site on Friday with his daughter, which was the first time she was seen in public. Kim and his daughter walked hand in hand through the ICBM launch site, where military officials and staff followed them. They stopped to look at military equipment and several ICBMs.

Fumio Kishida, the prime minister of Japan, said that his country had “strongly protested” North Korea’s launch on Friday. He said that North Korea had “provoked us with an unprecedented frequency.”

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Thailand, Kishida said, “We have told (Pyongyang) that we absolutely cannot tolerate such actions.”

KCNA said the missile flew nearly 1,000 km (621 miles) and reached a height of 6,041 km at its highest point (3,754 miles).

Kim called the test launch a success and said it proved North Korea’s “maximum capacity to contain any nuclear threat.” He also said it was a warning to US President Joe Biden’s administration and allies that any military provocation would lead to their “self-destruction,” according to KCNA.

“Our party and government should clearly demonstrate their strongest will to retaliate the hysteric aggression war drills by the enemies,” Kim said, according to KCNA.

Friday’s ICBM launch and threats come just days after Vice President Joe Biden asked Chinese President Xi Jinping, during their first face-to-face meeting at the G20 summit in Bali, to tell Kim that the US would not tolerate “long-range nuclear tests” from North Korea.

Biden said he would take a “defensive” action to “send a clear message to North Korea” if Xi couldn’t get Pyongyang to behave. Biden hasn’t talked about North Korea’s ICBM test on Friday yet.

In a statement sent to the media, the US Department of Defense said, “We are aware of the DPRK’s ballistic missile launch and are consulting closely with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan, as well as other regional allies and partners.”

“The United States condemns these actions and calls on the DPRK to refrain from any further unlawful and destabilizing acts. While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel, or territory, or to our allies, we will continue to monitor the situation. The US commitments to the ROK’s and Japan’s defense remain ironclad.”

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  (DPRK) is the official name for North Korea.