North Korea Is Close To Having A Nuclear Weapon That Can Reach The U.S.

Kim Jong Un has announced that Pyongyang is close to having an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking within the United States.

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On Sunday, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un announced that his country was close to finalizing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that would be able to strike parts of the United States. This is advancement by North Korea is one that many experts believed to be years away. It appears that they may have this capability sooner.

Kim Jong Un gave his announcement in a televised New Year’s Day speech.

“Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing and ICBM rocket test launch preparation is in its last stage,”

In 2016, North Korea conducted an unprecedented number of nuclear tests. It has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 as a result of its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. These sanctions were strengthened after North Korea carried out its fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9th.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Anna Richey-Allen called on other countries to discourage North Korea from continuing to conduct these tests. She asked “all states to use every available channel and means of influence to make clear to the DPRK and its enablers that launches using ballistic missile technology are unacceptable and take steps to show there are consequences to the DPRK’s unlawful conduct.”

North Korea’s Capabilities

Pyongyang has been trying for years to develop the technology needed to expand its nuclear reach. If accomplished, it would greatly increase North Korea’s power and influence on the international stage. The country already has the capability to launch submarine-based ballistic missiles against South Korea, which is of concern because South Korea has no reliable defense against such a weapon.

Experts say that it is likely that North Korea already possesses nuclear warheads for its Nodong medium-range missiles. This puts both South Korea and Japan in its range. The Musudan, North Korea’s intermediate range missile, can reach Guam, where a major U.S. military base is located.

The intercontinental ballistic missile is the next stage in North Korea’s nuclear development. This is the type of missile that would enable the country to strike at sites within the continental U.S. It’s not yet clear how close Pyongyang is to achieving this capability but it is believed that it could happen during Donald Trump’s term as president.

President-elect Donald Trump’s Reaction

President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to share his thoughts on Kim Jong Un’s announcement.

 

Trump also criticized the Chinese government for taking money from the U.S. in trade deals without offering any real assistance with the North Korean threat.

 

A senior U.S. intelligence official stated that Trump’s first request for a special classified intelligence briefing was for information on North Korea and its nuclear weapons program.

The President-elect has criticized Kim Jong Un in the past, calling him a “maniac.” He also stated that he might be willing to negotiate with him.

Trump has also stated that the U.S. should “make trade very difficult with Beijing” if they continue to refuse to do something about North Korea. He has even suggested that he would urge China to assassinate the North Korean leader.

Pyongyang has cited annual joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea as the reason for its continued nuclear development. They claim these exercises are preparation for an attack against North Korea.

One of the options that the United States could implement would be to pursue “secondary sanctions” that would impact outside companies that assist North Korea in continuing to develop its nuclear weapons capability. Of course, in order to do this, the President-elect would need to be willing to upset the Chinese government since most of these companies are based in China.

 

Sources: Reuters, CNN,