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North Korea says it’s prepared for ‘long confrontation’ with the US

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un poses in a video showcasing North Korea's Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile launch, March 24, 2022. (Screenshot)
March 25, 2022

On Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un confirmed the launch of the country’s new Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and said the country’s military is keeping itself “fully ready for long-standing confrontation with the US imperialists.”

The North Korean state-run Pyongyang Times reported Kim personally oversaw the Thursday launch of the “Hwasongpho-17” ICBM. North Korean state television channels also shared a Hollywood-style video of the missile launch, with Kim walking out of a missile hangar in a black leather jacket and sunglasses, looking at his watch, taking his glasses and nodding to military commanders to initiate the launch process.

On Thursday, Reuters reported the North Korean missile reached an altitude of 3,728 miles and flew 671 miles with a flight time of 71 minutes, before landing in the Sea of Japan. The Pyongyang Times reported the missile actually flew to an even higher 3,882 miles up and 677 miles distance over the course of 67 and a half minutes.

Thursday’s ICBM launch appears to have been the first full ICBM test in over four years. North Korea’s last known full ICBM test took place with an earlier ICBM variant known as the Hwasong-15. The Nov. 28, 2017 launch came before then-President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un began a period of denuclearization talks. During that period, Kim entered into a self-imposed moratorium on ICBM launches. Those denuclearization talks fell through in 2017 without an agreement. North Korea has conducted numerous smaller weapons tests in the time since.

In June 2021, Kim said North Korea must prepare for “both dialogue and confrontation” with the U.S. Kim appeared to echo those comments in his Friday remarks. Pyongyang Times reported Kim, “stressed that our national defense forces would possess formidable military and technical capabilities unperturbed by any military threat and blackmail and keep themselves fully ready for long-standing confrontation with the US imperialists.”

The North Korea publication said Kim further “affirmed that the strategic forces of the DPRK are fully ready to thoroughly curb and contain any dangerous military attempts of the US imperialists.”

The DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the formal name for the North Korean government.

The North Korean publication concluding by saying, “This powerful nuclear force of justice possessed by the great [Workers’ Party of Korea] and the great Korean people will reliably defend the victorious advance of our revolution and the eternal well-being of the future generations by humbling the US imperialists and their vassal forces showing off their military edge.”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price released a statement on Thursday saying, “The United States condemns the DPRK’s ballistic missile launch. Like the DPRK’s other escalatory tests this year, including at least two intercontinental ballistic missiles, this launch is a clear violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, and demonstrates the threat the DPRK’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs pose to the DPRK’s neighbors and the region as a whole.”