Kim Jong Un says ICBM launch ahead of South Korea-Japan summit should ‘incite fear’

(Bloomberg) – North Korea launched the most powerful ballistic missile in its arsenal just ahead of a summit meeting between Japan and South Korea, with leader Kim Jong Un saying he wanted to “instill fear in the enemies,” state media said.

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Kim was present with his teenage daughter to watch the launch of the Hwasong-17 ICBM on Thursday. The test was prompted by “the frantic, provocative and aggressive large-scale war drills conducted by the US and South Korean puppet traitors,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported on Friday. It almost never calls its neighbor by its real name.

The launch of what weapons experts say is the world’s largest roadworthy ICBM came hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol traveled to Japan for a rare summit with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to discuss ways to settle differences and work together with their mutual US ally to counteract the nuclear threats posed by the likes of Kim’s regime.

Read: Japan Needs South Korea to Defend Against Kim’s Missiles

The US and South Korea this week began some of their largest joint military exercises in years. North Korea has pledged an unprecedented response to the exercises, with leader Kim Yo Jong’s influential sister threatening to turn the Pacific Ocean into a “firing range”.

Thursday’s ICBM will cap a busy few weeks for North Korea, which has already launched 11 ballistic missiles since Feb. 18, including another ICBM and what appears to be a new short-range ballistic missile that was set to hit US bases in South Korea. The tests also included two cruise missiles fired from a submarine in what appeared to be another first.

The ICBM launched on Thursday reached an altitude of about 6,000 kilometers (3,730 miles) and covered a distance of about 1,000 km in a flight that lasted about 70 minutes before landing outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, the Defense Ministry said in Tokyo . KCNA released similar flight path details in its announcement.

The Hwasong-17 is the latest ICBM tested by North Korea, and it is designed to carry a multi-nuclear warhead payload to the US, weapons experts said.

Kim has given a hint of what might come next by parading through the streets of Pyongyang in February canisters of a new solid-fuel ICBM that would be quicker to deploy than its current liquid-fuel ballistic missiles – giving the US and its allies less time to get around to prepare their defense.

Read: Kim Jong Un puts new ICBM and potential heir on parade

Kim’s daughter made her state media debut at an ICBM launch in November. Since then, she has been dubbed the Precious Child by state media and has been by her father’s side at various events. Their presence signals that another generation is poised to lead the family dynasty forged during the Cold War, and its survival will depend on nuclear weapons.

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