Following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's New Year’s message that preparations for a test-launch of ICBMs were in the 'final stage', and president-elect Trump's response "it won't happen!" a Foreign Ministry spokesman warned, as cited by KCNA news agency, "the ICBM will be launched anytime and anywhere determined by the supreme headquarters of the DPRK."
Pyongyang aims to develop a nuclear warhead placed on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the US by the end of 2017 or early 2018, a former N. Korean diplomat told RT.
“North Korea has set the goal of developing miniaturized nuclear weapons that can fit atop a missile capable of reaching the US by the end of 2017 or early 2018 as it takes into account political transitions in South Korea and the US,” Thae Yong-ho, former North Korean diplomat who defected in July and currently lives in London, told Yonhap.
President-Elect Trump seems confident it is unlikely...
North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
But as Thae, North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom prior to defecting with his wife and two sons to South Korea in 2016, added, a lot will depend on Seoul and Washington's response.
“Kim's message indicates that North Korea has completed the development of mid-range missiles with only [tests of] ICBMs being left. It throws questions to Seoul and Washington over what they will do,” Thae said.
nd just tonight, South Korea's Yonhap news reports that North Korea claimed it could test launch an ICBM at any time from any location.
“The ICBM will be launched anytime and anywhere determined by the supreme headquarters of the DPRK [the Democratic People's Republic of Korea],” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, as cited by KCNA news agency.
As a reminder, we warned that while last year's failure of North Korea’s missile tests reaffirms the deficiencies of its ballistic and nuclear programs, it perversely, also increases the risk of an imminent greater destabilizing behavior.
Lastly, we noted that ChannelNewsAsia reports tonight of increasing fears around how Trump will deal with North Korea...
This huge uncertainty has some observers in China, a staunch ally of North Korea, worried.
Said Zhao Tong, an associate in Carnegie's Nuclear Policy Program based at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy: “Trump is also very well-known for making quick decisions, and there is a danger there because if Trump sees that North Korea is about to launch a long-range or intercontinental range ballistic missile test, he might very well go ahead and order a pre-emptive strike to take out the missile on the launch pad, and that could prove to be very provocative and may even lead to a regional conflict.”
Experts have said North Korea may conduct new nuclear and missile tests early 2017, when Mr Trump officially assumes power, just as what it did when President Barack Obama took office. And if that happens, it may just be what it would take to clear up the confusion over Mr Trump's policy on North Korea.