North Korea shows its missile muscle

IN a development that has unnerved many countries especially the United States, North Korea on Wednesday announced successful launch of an ICBM capable of reaching almost all corners of the United States. According to North Korea’s announcements about the launch, the Hwasong-15 can be tipped with a ‘super-large heavy warhead’, reached an altitude of 2,780 miles and flew 600 miles from its launch site just outside Pyongyang. It was airborne for 53 minutes before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.
The test has been condemned by a number of countries with many of them including Pakistan urging the North to exercise restraint and not to raise the ante. The development is so worrisome for the United States that apart from sharp reaction from top officials including President Trump, experts and analysts are comparing capabilities of the North with their own country to dampen the psychological effect of the test, which Pyongyang sees as completion of the process to achieve the status of a nuclear power state. The timing and location are important. It was launched in the dead of night, most likely from a mobile launcher, near the capital. That indicates the North was trying to show it can launch whenever and wherever it pleases — a capability makes it more difficult to take pre-emptive action. There are growing apprehensions that the United States and North Korea were heading for direct confrontation, the consequences of which remain an imagination. There is need for reduction in tension on the Korean peninsula but unfortunately the United States has been pursuing the policy of putting undue pressure on small countries, relaying existential threats against them and thereby forcing them to take measures to defend themselves through every conceivable means. After the latest test, North Korea has repeated its claim that it was aimed at defending itself against Washington’s ‘nuclear blackmail’ and that its missile and nuclear programme are not directed against any other country. We believe that instead of tightening sanctions against North Korea, which is facing economic and financial crunch, efforts should be made to resolve the issue through dialogue and discussion. Any military action is also out of question as this would have serious consequences for regional countries.

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