World

Kim Jong Un: North Korea missile a July 4 'gift' to Americans

US calls for action after Pyongyang says ICBM can carry nuclear warhead

SEOUL North Korea said yesterday its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) can carry a large nuclear warhead. That triggered a call by Washington for action to hold it accountable for pursuing nuclear weapons.

A spokesman for the US Defence Department said it had concluded that Pyongyang test-launched an ICBM on Tuesday.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the testwas "a new escalation of the threat" to the US and its allies, and vowed to take stronger measures.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the test completed his country's strategic weapons capability that includes atomic and hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, state news agency KCNA said.

Pyongyang would not negotiate to give up the weapons until Washington abandons its hostile policy against it, KCNA quoted Mr Kim as saying.

KCNA said that after overseeing the test, Mr Kim "said American bastards would be not very happy with this gift sent on the July 4 anniversary". Breaking out in laughter, he said "we should send them gifts once in a while to help break their boredom".

Mr Tillerson warned that any country that hosts North Korean workers, provides economic or military aid to Pyongyang, or fails to implement UN sanctions "is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime".

US President Donald Trump denounced China's trade with North Korea yesterday and cast doubt on whether Beijing is working with the US to counter Pyongyang's 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!" he tweeted.

The US and South Korean militaries held joint drills yesterday that were designed to display both countries' own missile strengths. Seoul said the drills were to show their own ability to strike at the North's leadership if necessary.

South Korean President Moon Jae In said "the situation was no longer sufficient to respond to the North's provocation by making statements", according to his office, while his defence ministersaid there was a high possibility of a sixth nuclear test by the North.

"It is discouraging that the Chinese (and Russians) are calling for 'restraint by all sides', despite the fact that their client state, North Korea, has cast aside all restraint and is sprinting for the finish line in demonstrating a nuclear-armed ICBM capability," said Mr Daniel Russel, a diplomat in residence at the Asia Society Policy Institute, a think-tank. - REUTERS

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