Friday’s ICBM launch was the latest in North Korea’s ongoing torrid run of missile tests that experts say are meant to boost its nuclear capability and increase its leverage in future diplomacy.
North Korea said leader Kim Jong Un observed Friday's launch of its Hwasong-17 missile and called it another "reliable and maximum-capacity” weapon to contain U.S. military threats. Some experts say the Hwasong-17 is still under development but it's the North's longest-range missile and is designed to carry several nuclear warheads to overcome U.S. missile defense systems.
North Korea has argued its testing activities are a warning to the United States and South Korea over their series of military drills that the North believes were an invasion rehearsal. Washington and Seoul have maintained their exercises are defensive in nature.
In her statement Monday, Choe again defended her country’s missile tests, calling them “legitimate and just exercise of the right to self-defense” against “provocative nuclear war rehearsals” by the United States and its allies. She said it’s “most amazing and deplorable to me” as Guterres still blamed North Korea for a recent flare-up in tensions on the Korean Peninsula, not the United States.
A day before her country’s ICBM test, Choe threatened to threatened to launch “fiercer” military responses to steps by the U.S. to bolster its security commitment to South Korea and Japan.