North Korea on Sunday claimed it can test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) any time from any location as commanded by Kim Jong Un. The country, which has been at loggerheads with the United States (US), has also said that its arms’ development drive was the result of a hostile foreign policy of the US.
Kim had said on January 1 that North Korea was close to test-launching an ICBM.
The North Korean KCNA news agency cited a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that the ICBM would be launched any time at any location as determined by the supreme headquarters of the DPRK.
KCNA further quoted the spokesman as saying that the US had for decades tried to encroach upon the sovereignty of DPRK and it was this hostile attitude that led North Korea to develop an ICBM.
United States Defence Secretary Ash Carter on Sunday said that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes posed a serious threat to the US, adding that the US was fully prepared to shoot down a missile launch or test by North Korea.
In an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press programme, Carter said, "We only would shoot a missile down if it was threatening us, that is, if it were coming towards our territory or the territory of our friends and allies."
The United States also claimed recently that North Korea had managed to make a qualitative improvement in its nuclear and missile capabilities after a series of tests in 2016.
Experts believe that although North Korea was close to a test, it would be some years before they perfected the weapon. However, once developed, a North Korean ICBM could threaten the continental United States considering that the maximum range of an ICBM is more than 10,000 kilometres while US territory is 9,000 kilometres from North Korea.