North Korea said on Wednesday its newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) can carry a large nuclear warhead, triggering a call by Washington for global action to hold it accountable for pursuing nuclear weapons.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Defense Department said it had concluded that North Korea on Tuesday test-launched an ICBM, which some experts believe has the range to reach Alaska and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the test, on the eve of the U.S. Independence Day holiday, represented “a new escalation of the threat” to the United States and its allies, and vowed to take stronger measures.
The U.N. Security Council, currently chaired by China, will hold an emergency meeting on North Korea at 3 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Wednesday, requested by the United States, Japan and South Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the test completed his country’s strategic weapons capability that includes atomic and hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, the state KCNA news agency said.
Pyongyang will not negotiate with the United States to give up those weapons until Washington abandons its hostile policy against the North, KCNA quoted Kim as saying.
“He, with a broad smile on his face, told officials, scientists and technicians that the U.S. would be displeased … as it was given a ‘package of gifts’ on its ‘Independence Day’,” KCNA said.
Kim ordered them to “frequently send big and small ‘gift packages’ to the Yankees,” it added.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been urging China, North Korea’s main trading partner and only major ally, to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program.
Diplomats say Beijing has not been fully enforcing existing international sanctions on its neighbor, and has resisted tougher measures, such as an oil embargo, bans on the North Korean airline and guest workers, and measures against Chinese banks and other firms doing business with the North.
Trump denounced China’s trade with North Korea and cast doubt on whether Beijing is working with Washington to counter the North Korean nuclear threat.
“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 pct in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
In a phone call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Trump urged all countries to “stop hosting North Korean guest workers, and stop providing economic or military benefits to North Korea,” the White House said in a statement.
The missile launch came days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations are due to discuss steps to rein in North Korea’s weapons program, which it has pursued in defiance of United Nations Security Council sanctions.
The test successfully verified the technical requirements of the newly developed ICBM in stage separation, the atmospheric re-entry of the warhead and the late-stage control of the warhead, KCNA said.