Expert: North Korea’s nuclear missile system ‘fully established’

The Associated Press
People watch a TV showing images of North Korea’s missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul on Monday.

SEOUL — North Korea’s confirmation that it tested its Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sunday indicates Pyongyang has the capability to deploy weapons that could target the U.S. territory of Guam.

The recent intensification of North Korea’s military provocations is believed to be an attempt to gain an upper hand in negotiations with the United States.

Sunday’s test marked the first time since September 2017 that North Korea has launched a Hwasong-12 missile, which is said to have a range of about 5,000 kilometers.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on Monday reported that the missile has been manufactured and deployed.

“It can be concluded that Hwasong-12 is currently under field deployment,” said Park Won-gon, an associate professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

“North Korea has fully established a nuclear missile system capable of striking South Korea, Japan and Guam,” Park said, referring to the various missiles Pyongyang launched in January.

With Guam about 3,400 kilometers from Pyongyang, the deployment of Hwasong-12 missiles poses a real threat to the United States.

Although the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has expressed readiness to engage in dialogue with North Korea without preconditions, it is reluctant to lift sanctions unless Pyongyang demonstrates actions toward denuclearization.

Japan to cooperate with ROK, U.S.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Japanese government has announced the results of its analysis of data on Sunday’s launch, confirming that it was a Hwasong-12.

North Korea launched three Hwasong-12 missiles in 2017, two of which flew over Japan.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on Monday expressed concern that the missile is now “at a more practical, production stage.”

He told reporters he plans to cooperate with the United States and South Korea to strengthen warning and surveillance activities.