Kim: North Korea Capable of Missile 'Attack' on U.S. Military in Pacific

  • Pyongyang says missiles can strike ‘Americans in the Pacific’
  • Launch comes on day of informal six-nation dialogue in Beijing

A television screen broadcasts news coverage of a North Korean rocket launch, at Seoul station on June 22. North Korea said its launch Wednesday of an intermediate-range ballistic missile was successful, claiming the projectile is capable of hitting U.S. military operations in the Pacific.

Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea said it successfully launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of hitting U.S. military operations in the Pacific, prompting the U.S. to call on the United Nations Security Council to take action on the isolated nation.

QuickTake North Korea's Nukes

Wednesday’s test was watched by leader Kim Jong Un and "successfully conducted without giving any slightest effect to the security of surrounding countries," the official Korean Central News Agency said in a statement Thursday. An official for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the country assumed North Korea’s missile engine performance had improved, although it couldn’t say definitively if the launch could be considered a success.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN said before a Security Council meeting on the issue that North Korea’s defiance of international law "underscores how important it is for us to come together and to ensure consequence for this inherently destabilizing behavior." The test came on the same day that scholars and officials from the six countries part of the stalled talks on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament -- China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. -- met informally in Beijing.

The launch of the Hwasong-10, described as a "surface-to-surface medium long-range strategic ballistic missile," flew 400 kilometers (249 miles) and achieved a maximum altitude of 1,414 kilometers before "accurately" landing in target waters, the KCNA statement said. The details matched those given by Japan’s Defense Ministry for a launch that took place at 8 a.m., Seoul time Wednesday, the second of two firings condemned by Japan, South Korea and the U.S.

For a Quicktake on North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, click here.

Kim was cited as saying the missile provided the capability to "attack in an overall and practical way the Americans in the Pacific operation theater," adding that it was "an important occasion in further strengthening the nuclear attack capacity" of North Korea.

Meanwhile, more than 90 scholars and government officials from the six countries wrapped up a two-day discussion of regional issues at the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue in Beijing. Susan Shirk, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said Thursday that the Chinese and U.S. sides made "very active efforts" to bring North Korea back to the gathering.

"We think it’s very important to maintain these lines of communication," said Shirk, a co-founder of the dialogue.

‘Gallant’ Confrontation

Earlier in Beijing, Choe Son Hui, deputy director of North American affairs at North Korea’s foreign ministry, said his nation was "really happy" about the missile launch that allowed it to "gallantly confront any nuclear wars carried out by the U.S.," according to the Associated Press.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the projectiles were the same as Musudan missiles that have an estimated range of 3,000 kilometers, although North Korea didn’t use such terminology in the statement.

North Korea has been testing the mid-range weapons in a series of botched launches that began in April on the anniversary of the birthday of the nation’s founder, Kim Il Song. The attempts followed the country’s fourth nuclear test in January and the February firing of a long-range rocket it said was to put a satellite in space.

After North’s nuclear test and rocket launch, the security council adopted a resolution targeting North Korea’s banks, cargo ships and mineral exports -- a key source of hard currency for the Kim regime. The U.S. and South Korea also stepped up their own sanctions on the Pyongyang regime.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office said Wednesday’s launches were a "clear violation" of United Nations Security Council resolutions. NATO said the "provocative actions" undermine international security, while the U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the launches "only serve to increase the international community’s resolve to counter the DPRK’s prohibited activities."

— With assistance by Keith Zhai, and Shinhye Kang

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