The US has deployed two supersonic bomber aircraft following the test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by North Korea.
Washington sent B-1B bombers to take part in joint drills with South Korean and Japanese forces on Saturday, following Pyongyang’s missile test on Friday.
US National Security Council spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, said the White House was committed to taking “all necessary measures” to protect its allies in close proximity to North Korea following Friday’s test launch.
Japan’s defence minister, Yasukazu Hamada, had commented on Friday that the new ICBM “could cover the entire mainland United States” with its up to 15,000-kilometre range.
North Korea’s state media touted the launch of the new Hwasong-17 missile, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads, as a “reliable and maximum-capacity” weapon to oppose US nuclear collaboration with the state’s regional neighbours.
North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, was photographed watching the ICBM launch with his wife and daughter, who was publicly photographed for the first time.
Reports from inside the country said the missile reached a maximum altitude of more than 6,000km and travelled around 1,000km before plunging into international waters.
Pyongyang’s state media said the missile test, which lasted just over an hour, “clearly proved the reliability of the new major strategic weapon system” for the country, adding to North Korea’s “powerful combat performance”.
It then quoted the country’s leader as vowing to respond to “nuclear confrontation with all-out confrontation”.
It said North Korea would “resolutely react” to the use of any nuclear weapons with reciprocal nuclear action.
Western observers have expressed worries that Pyongyang could embark on its first nuclear test in several years within the next few weeks.
An emergency UN Security Council meeting will be held on Monday following Friday’s test launch.
The launch raised alarm bells for North Korea’s close neighbours, with Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, saying Tokyo had “lodged a strong protest against North Korea”.
He added that Pyongyang had “repeated its provocations with unprecedented frequency”.
More to follow…