North Korea this week tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could potentially travel as far as Alaska, and the United States and neighboring countries are now left in the wake of the real possibility of North Korea’s future “gifts” to the world.
In response to the Hwasgon-14 ICBM, which was fired Monday night local time off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. on Tuesday fired “deep strike” precision missiles into South Korean territorial waters, as part of a joint exercise with South Korea, according to the Associated Press. This was said to be a show of force and a sign of solidarity among the U.S. and South Korea.
President Donald Trump tweeted on July 3: “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy [Kim Jong Un] have anything better to do with his life?”
“Hard to believe that South Korea […] and Japan will put up with this much longer,” Trump added. “Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
The Pentagon confirmed this week that North Korea fired an ICBM. The successful firing of the missile has left many nations worried about what to do next.
Additionally, the ICBM test comes during a time when tensions are running high in the U.S. regarding the threat of North Korea’s missile program that is allegedly gearing up to attack the U.S.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was reportedly gleeful about the successful ICBM test, and said Wednesday he would send more “gift packages” to the U.S., according to the Associated Press.
In a video, North Korea’s Academy of Defense joyfully announced it had “successfully” test-fired the Hwasgon-14 ICBM.
The U.S. Pacific Command tracked the missile and said the land-based ICBM launched near Airfrield, North Korea, according to a press release. The missile was tracked for 37 minutes before it landed in the Sea of Japan, according to Pacific Command.
“We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment. We continue to monitor North Korea’s actions closely,” Pacific Command officials said, according to the release. “U.S. Pacific Command stands behind our ironclad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan.”
According to Pacific Command, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said the ICBM test “did not pose a threat to North America.”
In a Defense Department statement, Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White said the U.S. condemned the ICBM launch.
“We are monitoring and continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our regional allies and partners,” White said, according to the statement. “The launch continues to demonstrate that North Korea poses a threat to the United States and our allies. Together with [South Korea], we conducted a combined exercise to show our precision fire capability.”
“We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies and to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat from North Korea,” White said in the statement. “The United States seeks only the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Our commitment to the defense of our allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, remains ironclad.”
This test missile is one of at least a dozen missiles now that North Korea has test-launched this year – the ballistic missile launched Monday marks the 17th missile North Korea has tested so far.
Before Monday, North Korea had most recently launched four surface-to-ship missiles in early June. That launch came less than a week after the United Nations Security Council passed a new resolution that imposed new sanctions on North Korea.
Prior, North Korea tested a short-range ballistic missile in late May that was controlled by a precision guidance system, and is similar to a Scud missile, or long-range surface-to-surface guided missile. North Korea reportedly promised a “bigger gift” to the U.S. following that launch.