PYONGYANG (Al Jazeera) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un promised to use nuclear weapons to counter threats from the United States hours after test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICMB).
The United Nations Security Council, at the behest of Japan, South Korea and the U.S. will gather on Monday to discuss North Korea’s latest missile launch.
North Korea test-fired what it said was a Hwasong-17 ICBM, which can travel up to 15,000 km (9,320 miles), on Friday shortly after warning of “fiercer military responses” to Washington.
“Kim Jong-un solemnly declared that if the enemies continue to pose threats … our party and government will resolutely react to nukes with nuclear weapons and to total confrontation with all-out confrontation,” Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Saturday.
KCNA said the Hwasong-17 launched on Friday was aimed at achieving “the most powerful and absolute nuclear deterrence” and described the missile as “the strongest strategic weapon in the world”.
North Korea has long defended its launch of ballistic missiles as a legitimate defence against what it calls a decades-old threat from U.S. military forces and its allies in South Korea.
Kim was accompanied by his daughter, in her first public appearance, while he inspected a missile launch site on Friday. Trailed by military officials and personnel, Kim and his daughter walked hand-in-hand through the ICBM launch site where they paused to observe military hardware and multiple ICBMs.
Commenting on Friday’s launch, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his country had “lodged a strong protest against North Korea, which has repeated its provocations with unprecedented frequency”.
“We have told (Pyongyang) that we absolutely cannot tolerate such actions,” Kishida said at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Thailand.
KCNA said the missile flew nearly 1,000 km (621 miles) for roughly 69 minutes, reaching a peak altitude of 6,041 km (3,754 miles).
The launch showed that “the nuclear forces of the DPRK have secured another reliable and maximum capacity to contain any nuclear threat,” the state news agency underlined, using the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.