Seoul says North Korea puts Washington in range, but needs to prove critical technology

Seoul says North Korea puts Washington in range, but needs to prove critical technology
From Reuters - December 1, 2017

SEOUL/MOSCOW (Reuters) - North Koreas latest missile test puts Washington within range, but Pyongyang still needs to prove it has mastered critical missile technology, such as re-entry, terminal stage guidance and warhead activation, South Korea said on Friday.

South Koreas Ministry of Defence said the Hwasong-15 missile tested on Wednesday was a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which can fly over 13,000 km (8,080 miles), placing Washington within target range.

The test prompted a warning from the United States that North Koreas leadership would be utterly destroyed if war were to break out, a statement that drew sharp criticism from Russia.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov termed the threat from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley a bloodthirsty tirade and said military action against Pyongyang would be a big mistake, Russian news agencies reported.

We will do everything to ensure that (the use of force) doesnt happen so that the problem is decided only using peaceful and political-diplomatic means, Lavrov said.

Separately, Russian lawmakers just back from a visit to Pyongyang said North Korea was not prepared to disarm, and while it did not want nuclear war it was morally ready for it, Russias RIA news agency reported.

Pyongyang has said its Wednesday missile test was a breakthrough and leader Kim Jong Un said the country had finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force.

After North Korea released video footage and photographs of Hwasong-15, U.S. based experts said it appeared North Korea was indeed capable of delivering a nuclear weapon anywhere in the United States and could only be two or three tests away from being combat ready.

Yeo Suk-joo, South Koreas deputy minister of defense policy, told the South Korean parliament that North Korea still needed to prove some technologies, like re-entry, terminal stage guidance and warhead activation.

Even so, South Koreas Unification Ministry said North Korea was likely to pause its missile tests for a number of reasons, including the northern hemisphere winter season.

For now if there are no sudden changes in situation or external factors, we feel there is a high chance North Korea will refrain from engaging in provocations for a while, said Lee Yoo-jin, the ministrys deputy spokeswoman.


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