(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

SEOUL • North Korea said yesterday it was seeking military “equilibrium” with the US as leader Kim Jong Un vowed to complete Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

North Korea successfully fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan on Friday, responding to a new round of United Nations sanctions over its sixth nuclear test with its farthest missile flight.

“Our final goal is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the US and make the US rulers dare not talk about military options for the DPRK,” Mr Kim said, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.

Mr Kim said the country was close to the goal of completing its nuclear ambitions and should use all power at its disposal to finish the task, saying it had “nearly reached the terminal”, KCNA reported.

The UN Security Council condemned the launch as “highly provocative”. It is due to hold a ministerial-level meeting on Thursday this week on the threat from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with a focus on enforcing sanctions on North Korea, diplomats said. The US had called the meeting that will be held during the annual General Assembly gathering of world leaders at the UN.

The purpose “is to discuss ways the Security Council can better enforce the resolutions it has adopted to prevent the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons”, said a US concept note on the meeting.

US President Donald Trump is scheduled to discuss the crisis this week with the leaders of South Korea and Japan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, which kicks off tomorrow.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Friday that the world is “out of time” to stop North Korea from becoming a nuclear state. General McMaster and the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley insist that the US has military options, contrary to conventional wisdom that Seoul’s vulnerability to a North Korean counter-attack rules out the possibility of a strike.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron jointly appealed for talks with North Korea, saying this was the only way to resolve tensions over its nuclear programme.

China’s ambassador to Washington on Friday called on the US to refrain from making threats over North Korea. Ambassador Cui Tiankai said: “Honestly, I think the United States should be doing… much more than now, so that there’s real effective international cooperation on this issue. They should refrain from issuing more threats. They should do more to find effective ways to resume dialogue and negotiation.”


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