North Korea’s leader says his country is in the final stages of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Kim Jong Un made his remarks Sunday in a televised New Year’s speech.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Anna Richey-Allen on Sunday called on North Korea "to refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric that threaten international peace and stability." She also called on "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 conducted two nuclear tests in 2016 undeterred by international rebukes and increased sanctions.
New arms race?
Beyond the existential threat to the world posed by permitting the unpredictable and repressive North Korean state to possess these weapons of mass destruction, analysts say giving in to Pyongyang’s demand to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) it signed in the 1980s could also spark a new global arms race.
The country has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. Pyongyang has responded to the sanctions by accelerating its weapons development programs through the summer, testing numerous land-based and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
The sanctions were tightened last month after Pyongyang conducted its fifth and largest nuclear test September 9.
Ban Ki-moon concerned
Former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has said he is “deeply concerned (about) the mounting tension on the Korean peninsula imposed by North Korea’s ballistic missiles test as well as nuclear tests.”
A senior U.S. military official said last month that North Korea appears able to mount a miniaturized nuclear warhead on a missile but is still struggling with missile re-entry technology necessary for longer range strikes.