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North Korea vows ‘nuclear’ response to US threats

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Kabul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has firmly warned to counter US threats with nuclear weapons amid Washington’s military activities in the region, including joint exercises with Seoul and Tokyo.

North Korea’s official news agency KCNA said on Saturday that Kim made the warning after he personally oversaw Pyongyang’s latest launch of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which flew some 1,000 kilometers before falling in waters in the Sea of Japan.

Pointing to joint US exercises with Japan and South Korea he was quoted by the KCNA as saying that if Washington continues to make threats against the North, Pyongyang “will resolutely react to nukes with nuclear weapons and to total confrontation with all-out confrontation.”

North Korea on Friday fired its newest intercontinental ballistic missile the Hwasong-17, dubbed the “monster missile” by analysts, with South Korea and Japan saying they suspect the long-range missile was designed to strike the mainland US.

KCNA said the launch of the “new-type ICBM” was successful, adding that the “test-fire clearly proved the reliability of the new major strategic weapon system.”

The launch showed that “the nuclear forces of the DPRK have secured another reliable and maximum capacity to contain any nuclear threat,” the state news agency underlined.

Kim oversaw the test of Pyongyang’s ICBM with his daughter in tow for the first time, with KCNA reporting that the presence of the country’s first family provided “greater strength and courage in the dynamic advance for bolstering up the state nuclear strategic forces.”

The South Korean military said on Saturday that a US B-1B strategic bomber was redeployed to the Korean Peninsula for a joint air drill with South Korea after Pyongyang had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“South Korea and the US conducted a joint air drill today with the US Air Force’s B-1B strategic bomber redeployed on the Korean peninsula,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Some of the most advanced jets in the US and South Korean air forces, including the F-35 stealth fighter, also joined the drill, it said.

Earlier this month, North Korea conducted a flurry of launches, including an ICBM. It also fired a short-range ballistic missile that crossed the de-facto maritime border between the two countries and landed near the South’s territorial waters for the first time since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

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