Photos: Bloomberg, Getty; photo illustration: Tom Hall/Bloomberg

Balance of Power: Can North Korea Now Hit America?

The U.S. has dreaded the day that North Korea developed a missile capable of hitting the homeland with a nuclear warhead. That day may have come on July 4.

With footage of goosestepping troops and patriotic songs, North Korean state TV announced the country’s first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking “anywhere in the world.” The rocket reached an altitude of 2,800 kilometers (1,740 miles), suggesting Kim could for the first time put Alaska in his sights.

While South Korea and Japan are still verifying whether North Korea has indeed joined the ICBM club, the missile’s trajectory confirms Kim’s progress in securing the technology needed to threaten the continental U.S. — something Donald Trump vowed  “won't happen.” Now, as he marks his first Independence Day as president, he has little to show for his troubles but frustration with the pace of China's efforts to rein in its neighbor.

The test ensures that North Korea dominates discussions when Trump meets Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday at the Group of 20 summit in Germany. After that? No one has any good options.

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Global Headlines

The world’s new power couple | This week’s G-20 summit is going to be different. No matter who played host in the past, the U.S. always took point in shaping the final consensus. But as Marc Champion and Peter Martin write, China and Germany are being forced to fill the void left by Trump as his America First focus marginalizes the U.S. on everything from free trade to climate change.   

More Russia probe testimony | The House Intelligence Committee is accelerating its probe of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, with plans to hold closed-door interviews with former aides Michael Caputo and Paul Manafort, who deny the accusations. That would represent progress for a panel so divided by partisan mistrust that its members have struggled to agree on their investigation’s mission and scope.

Temer aide arrested | Former Brazilian cabinet minister Geddel Vieira Lima was detained yesterday on suspicion of obstructing justice, adding new pressure on President Michel Temer as he prepares his defense against graft charges. The news came just hours after Temer said he’d now attend the G-20, having planned previously to stay in Brazil to deal with the crisis. 

How Trump sees the G-20 | Trump’s world view often seems like a trade scorecard: he regularly lambasts nations that export more to the U.S. than they import. On his last visit to Europe, he slammed Germany’s trade surplus as “very bad” while hailing the sale of “beautiful” weapons to Gulf states. As the G-20 approaches, this chart by Haley Warren shows who in Trump’s view are the worst offenders.

A first for Modi | Narendra Modi today starts the first-ever visit to Israel by a sitting Indian prime minister, in a trip likely to focus on giving Delhi greater access to high-tech defense hardware. It also reflects Modi’s confidence at home: India’s leaders have traditionally downplayed relations with Israel, fearing it would alienate the country’s 170 million Muslims.

Embracing Iranian risk | French energy giant Total SA became the first international energy company to invest in Iran since sanctions were eased last year, making a $1 billion bet on natural gas in the huge South Pars field. The deal shows Total’s willingness to swallow a hefty dose of political risk to gain first-mover advantage in Iran, holder of the world’s largest gas reserves.

And finally... Along with global crises like Syria, North Korea and Ukraine, the Kremlin has one really burning issue to raise when Vladimir Putin meets Trump this week: it wants its dachas back. The U.S. took the diplomatic country houses outside Washington and New York at the end of last year in retaliation for Russian election meddling. Putin so far hasn’t responded, and his patience is wearing thin. But Trump needs to be careful: any concessions to Russia’s president are sure to cost him back home.

Part of the Russian Federation’s riverfront compound on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Photographer: JIM WATSON/AFP

 

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