Experts say that an ICBM class missile fired from North Korea on late Friday night was able to strike Los Angeles and other American cities, including Chicago, New York, and Washington, and possibly Denver and Chicago. President Kim Jong-un said that all of the US is now within striking distance of North Korea. The action took place a day after the Senate approved a package of sanctions on North Korea, Russia, and Iran. US president Donald Trump’s administration condemned North Korea’s action, calling North Korea “the most urgent and dangerous threat to peace.” In a statement, Trump said, “by threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy, and deprive its people. …The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.” The official North Korean news agency said Friday’s missile is a “stern warning” to the US.
The missile flew for about 45 minutes before landing in the waters off Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The missile reportedly flew more than 1000 km and reached an altitude of more than 3700 km. The Pentagon’s Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) has determined that North Korea will be able to field a reliable nuclear capable ICBM by next year, earlier than previously believed.
US and South Korean military officials met to discuss military response options. The US and South Korea conducted a live-fire ballistic missile exercise in response to the missile launch, repeating a similar exercise earlier this month. South Korea’s defence minister Song Young-moo said Saturday that Seoul would prepare independent measures to curb North Korea’s nuclear threat. Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said that the window for a diplomatic solution is closing rapidly.” Japan’s foreign minister Fumio Kishida said, “they could establish an acceptably reliable ICBM before the year’s end.”
The Trump administration has clearly stated that a military response is possible, though it prefers diplomacy and sanctions. South Korean president Moon Jae-in said that he wants the UN Security Council to impose new and stronger actions on North Korea.
US secretary of state Rex Tilleson blamed Russia and China for being “the principal economic enablers of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development program [bearing] unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability” and said that the US will never accept a nuclear armed North Korea.