North Korea Vows to Complete Nuclear Weapons Program

Max Burman and Stella Kim

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promises his country would continue to develop its nuclear weapons program with the ultimate goal of establishing “equilibrium” in military force with the U.S., according to state media.

The comments, carried by KCNA news agency on Saturday, come after the U.N. Security Council strongly condemned Pyongyang’s latest missile launch over Japan as “highly provocative.”

President Donald Trump’s administration proposed crippling sanctions on North Korea in response to its recent underground test of a nuclear device that it claimed was a powerful hydrogen bomb. The proposals had to be watered down to win the support of Russia and China, but were adopted unanimously by the Security Council after a vote early last week.

“We should clearly show the big power chauvinists how our state attain the goal of completing its nuclear force despite their limitless sanctions and blockade,” Kim was quoted as saying by KCNA.

The Hwasong-12 rocket that flew over Japanese airspace on Friday before crashing into the Pacific Ocean was the country’s longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile.

Under Kim’s leadership, North Korea has accelerated its nuclear program and issued increasing threats against the U.S.

In public statements, North Korea has said it wants an official end to the Korean War. The conflict was halted by a 1953 armistice but no peace treaty has been signed. It also wants full normalization of relations with the U.S. and to be treated with respect and as an equal in the global arena.

American and South Korean military officials said the latest missile reached an altitude of about 478 miles, travelling 2,300 miles past the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido before landing in the sea. That means it had the capacity to reach the U.S. territory of Guam.

Speaking at Joint Base Andrews on Friday afternoon, Trump said North Korea’s missile test showed Pyongyang had “once again shown its utter contempt for its neighbors and for the entire world community.”

He also expressed confidence in the U.S. ability to respond as needed.

“After seeing our capabilities, I am more confident than ever that our options are not only effective but overwhelming,” he said.

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