Go to Contents Go to Navigation

N.K.'s ICBM test threat aims to press U.S. to change policy: Seoul

All Headlines 12:11 January 09, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's latest threat to test-fire a long-range missile is seen as a form of pressuring the United States to change its tough stance toward Pyongyang, a Seoul official said Monday, ahead of an inauguration of a new U.S. administration.

North Korea's foreign ministry warned Sunday that Pyongyang could launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at any time and from anywhere its leadership chooses.

South Korea's unification ministry said that there is no imminent indication of North Korea test-firing an ICBM since Pyongyang did not engage in a missile provocation on Sunday, Kim Jong-un's birthday.

"North Korea's warning is seen as aiming to put pressure on the U.S. to change its attitude (toward Pyongyang)," Jeong Joon-hee, ministry spokesman, said at a regular press briefing. "Pyongyang also appears to shift responsibility for its provocation to the U.S. if it launches the missile."

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's message that his country has entered the final stage of preparations to test-fire an ICBM, hinting that it is seeking to target the U.S. mainland with miniaturized nuclear weapons.

North Korea aims to complete the development of an ICBM capable of hitting the U.S. by the end of this year or early 2018, Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected to the South last year, told Yonhap News Agency on Sunday.

The North's leader also vowed to bolster the country's capacity to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes if South Korea and the U.S. do not suspend their annual joint military exercises this year.

Pyongyang's warning is widely seen as targeting U.S. President-elect Donald Trump who will take office on Jan. 20. He has not unveiled clear directions of his North Korea policy, but experts forecast Trump to be tough on Pyongyang.

Jeong warned that North Korea will face international sanctions and pressure if it fires off an ICBM.

"We are once again urging North Korea to walk on the path toward denuclearization," the spokesman said.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
(END)

HOME TOP
Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!