North Korean leader Kim Jong Un boasted that a recently tested intercontinental ballistic missile is another “reliable and maximum-capacity” weapon to contain U.S. military threats, state media reported Saturday. The United States responded to the North’s weapons launch by flying supersonic bombers in a show of force.
The North’s Korean Central News Agency said Kim oversaw the launch of the Hwasong-17 missile, a day after its neighbors said they had detected the launch of an ICBM that showed a potential to reach anywhere in the United States.
KCNA said Kim observed the launch with his wife Ri Sol Ju and their “beloved daughter” as well as senior officials. State media photos showed Kim walking hand-in-hand with his daughter, who was clad in a white coat, together watching a huge missile loaded on a launch truck. It’s the first time for North Korea to publish the photo of Kim’s daughter. Observers say Kim observing a weapons launch with his family suggests that he is emboldened by his advancing nuclear program.
Friday’s launch was part of the North’s ongoing barrage of missile tests that are seen as an attempt to expand its arsenal and boost its leverage in future diplomacy. Some foreign experts said the Hwasong-17 missile is still under development but is the North’s longest-range ballistic weapon designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads to defeat U.S. missile defense systems.