(Bloomberg) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of “a new type” of intercontinental ballistic missile and brought along his daughter, who made her first official appearance in state media.
Kim, who himself had been absent from the public eye for about a month, was featured in the country’s main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, in photos with his daughter, including one of them holding hands and walking in front of the missile as it sits on a launch pad. Friday’s ICBM launch came after Pyongyang warned the United States to halt allied military exercises in the region or face retaliation.
The official Korean state news agency said on Saturday that Kim attended the test site with his “beloved daughter and wife” to “personally guide the entire process of the test fire.”
KCNA said its Hwasong-17 ICBM was launched from Pyongyang International Airport and traveled at a maximum altitude of 6,041 kilometers (3,753 miles) for 999 kilometers before landing in waters east of the country. The flight data from North Korea was consistent with figures from South Korea and Japan, which added that the missile had a range of more than 15,000 kilometers – enough to reach the United States.
The latest test underscored the challenges the Biden administration faces in trying to slow Kim’s nuclear program. North Korea’s leader is finding room to increase provocation and take military action against the United States and its allies as Biden focuses on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and China, two of North Korea’s longtime allies, have veto power in the United Nations Security Council and have shown no interest in punishing Kim with additional sanctions.
“The recent dangerous situation in which the military threats of the US and other hostile forces are becoming increasingly undisguised around the DPRK requires them to significantly accelerate the strengthening of their overwhelming nuclear deterrence,” state media quoted Kim as saying on Saturday. the country under its official name.
US Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday convened a meeting with leaders from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea on the sidelines of an international gathering in Bangkok, where they condemned the test. “We strongly condemn these actions, and we once again call on North Korea to stop any further illegal, destabilizing actions,” she said.
Soo Kim, strategic analyst at Rand Corp. who formerly worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, said Kim Jong Un may have wanted to show the public that the fourth generation of his family that has ruled the country since its founding not only exists, but “has a promising future.”
“Kim may have wanted to make it clear to the rest of us that (1) the weapons are a fixture of the regime, (2) his and his children’s lives depend on them, and (3) forgetting about weapons would be self-destruction,” Soo Kim said.
Kim Jong Un has ignored calls from the Biden administration to return to nuclear disarmament talks that have stalled for about three years. State media recently said he had reiterated his opposition to negotiations with the United States after declaring in September that North Korea would “never give up its nuclear weapons or denuclearize first.”
Kim Jong Un lied about launching new version of ICBM, Seoul says
North Korea also released several photos of the missile, including one in flight watched by Kim and his daughter. The images will be used by weapons experts to determine whether the Hwasong-17 — the country’s newest ICBM — was fired after one failed to fly over Pyongyang in March and the state tried to cover it up with medical video. released to the outside world.
The Hwasong-17 is considered by weapons experts to be the world’s largest roadworthy ICBM and likely designed to deliver multiple warheads to the continental United States.
It is almost unheard of for a North Korean leader to show one of his children in public until they are old enough to take on a role in the state system. Kim’s daughter appeared to be a schoolgirl and far too young to undertake political work.
South Korean intelligence said Kim married Ri Sol Ju in 2009 and they are believed to have three children. Their offspring have so far not been publicly mentioned, but Dennis Rodman, the undefeated basketball star who visited Kim in North Korea, said in 2013 that he held the leader’s baby girl, a daughter named Ju Ae.
North Korea has launched more than 65 missiles this year, more than double the number tested in any other year during Kim’s decade in power. Kim has been modernizing his arsenal by adding missiles that are faster to deploy, more maneuverable in flight and more difficult for US aircraft stationed in the region to shoot down.
The United States, Japan and South Korea have warned that Pyongyang could soon escalate tensions further with a nuclear test, which would be its first in five years and seventh overall. Washington, Tokyo and Seoul have all promised tough and coordinated punishment if Pyongyang goes ahead with a nuclear test, which would also be a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
The test could be used to advance Kim’s pursuit of small nuclear warheads that he could mount on missiles to attack US allies who host the bulk of US troops in Asia.
North Korea last launched a suspected ICBM on Nov. 3 — a missile that flew east and reached an altitude of 1,920 kilometers before malfunctioning, South Korea’s military said. It also fired short-range missiles on Thursday.
“Kim may have wanted to show the United States and the international community that his country will continue to defy international condemnation and call for North Korea to stop testing,” Soo Kim said.