North Korea fury: US hits out at sabre-rattling as Kim Jong-un unveils ‘monster’ missile

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Analysts said the missile, which was shown on a transporter vehicle with 11 axels, would be one of the largest road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the world if it becomes operational. Melissa Hanham, deputy director of the Open Nuclear Network, said: “This missile is a monster”.

This missile is a monster

Melissa Hanham

Washington branded North Korea’s display of the previously unseen ICBM “disappointing” and called on the Pyongyang to negotiate to achieve complete denuclearisation.

A senior US administration official said: “It is disappointing to see North Korea continuing to prioritise its prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile program over working towards a brighter future for the North Korean people.

“The United States calls on North Korea to engage in sustained and substantive negotiations to achieve complete denuclearisation.”

Experts said the new, larger ICBM is likely designed to carry multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing it to attack more targets and making interception more difficult.

Michael Elleman, director for Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the new missile could potentially deliver 2,000-3,500kg to any point on the US mainland, making it more capable than Soviet R-16 or R-26 ICBMs that were never deployed.

Markus Garlauskas, a former US intelligence officer for North Korea, said the new ICBM is intended to dispel doubts about North Korea’s ability to strike the US and an implicit threat that Kim is preparing to test the larger missile.

He said: “If the Hwasong-15 could carry a ‘super-large’ nuclear warhead to anywhere in the US, then the natural question is what can this larger missile carry?”

Riki Ellison, the founder of the non-profit Missile Defence Advocacy Alliance, said Pyongyang is widely expected to test the larger missile in coming months to sending a message to Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Jenny Town, a fellow at the Stimson Centre, said it was unclear if the missile shown was a conceptual or engineering mock-up or a workable prototype.

She said: “It seems highly unlikely they would try to deploy this system without testing it at least once.”

The ICBM was unveiled at an unprecedented predawn military parade held to showcase the country’s long-range weapons for the first time in two years.

Officials in the US and South Korea and predicted Kim would use the event to unveil a new “strategic weapon” as promised earlier this year.

The parade featured North Korea’s ballistic missiles for the first time since Kim began meeting with international leaders, including Mr Trump, in 2018.

The US official said Washington was sticking to four commitments made by Mr Trump and Kim at their historic meeting in June that year, including a pledge by Pyongyang to “work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

A video of the parade showed Kim making an appearance as a clock struck midnight

He made no direct mention of the US or the now-stalled denuclearisation talks but vowed his country’s military power would not be used pre-emptively.

He said: “We will continue to build our national defence power and self-defensive war deterrence.”

Dressed in a grey suit and tie, he waved to the crowd and accepted flowers from children while surrounded by military officials in Pyongyang’s recently renovated Kim Il-sung Square.

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Kim spoke for nearly half an hour, often visibly sweating despite the cool morning air, shedding tears when thanking the troops and smiling and laughing as he watched the missiles.

The parade was highly choreographed, with thousands of troops marching in formation, displays of new conventional military equipment including tanks, and fighter jets launching flares and fireworks.

South Korean officials predicted Kim would use the event as a “low intensity” show of power ahead of the US elections on November 3 as denuclearisation talks with Washington have stalled.

Chinese President Xi sent a congratulatory message to Kim and said he intended to “defend, consolidate and develop” ties with North Korea.

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