The Latest: Analyst says biggest fear is an atmospheric test
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs (all times local):
A U.S. nuclear and security analyst says his “biggest fear” is that North Korea’s recent statements signal the country might conduct an atmospheric test of a nuclear weapon atop a missile.
Such tests have been conducted in the past by the United States and China but not in recent decades.
Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said such a test would be worse than testing a longer range for an intercontinental ballistic missile, which is another scenario the North may be considering.
He said such a test could pose a danger to shipping and aircraft, even if the North declared a “keep out” zone, and would pose a risk to people if something went wrong. “We are talking about putting a live nuclear warhead on a missile that has been tested only a handful of times. It is truly terrifying if something goes wrong.”
North Korea’s official news agency has ridiculed the recent U.N. sanctions as “the dirty excrement of the reactionaries of history.”
North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test earlier this month, resulting in U.N. sanctions targeting North Korean trade and smuggling.
The ridicule came in a KCNA commentary criticizing China’s Community Party media outlets.
Japanese officials say North Korea could send a nuclear-armed missile over Japan if it tests a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.
They were responding Friday to reports that North Korea’s foreign minister had said his country might conduct such a test.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said North Korea might conduct an H-bomb test with a medium-range or intercontinental ballistic missile, given its recent advances in missile and nuclear weapons development. He said that “we cannot deny the possibility it may fly over our country.”
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he is aware of the remark by Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, and that the Japanese government would respond to any contingency with all possible warning and surveillance measures.
Ri made the comment to reporters at the U.N. and added that any potential action would have to be approved by Kim Jong Un.
North Korea says China’s ruling Communist Party media outlets are “going under the armpit of the U.S.” by criticizing Pyongyang’s weapons program.
A Friday commentary from the North’s official Korean Central News Agency accused the party newspaper People’s Daily and other party news outlets of “kowtowing to the ignorant acts of the Trump Administration.”
It mentioned, among a string of examples, how People’s Daily had said North Korea’s weapons program was “a noose put around its own neck.”
China’s Party media is “openly resorting to interference in the internal affairs of another country,” it declared, criticizing it for “being oblivious to the mission of the media, which should regard objectivity and impartiality as their lifeline.”
“They had better mind their own business, before impudently pointing an accusing finger at others.”
An emergency management official says Hawaii would face thousands of casualties and severe infrastructure damage from a North Korean missile.
As North Korea develops nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can reach the islands, Hawaii state lawmakers have been urging emergency management officials to update Cold War-era plans for coping with a nuclear attack.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator Vern Miyagi (mee-YAHG’-ee) says an attack is not likely, but the threat can’t ignored. He told lawmakers Thursday that currently people can do little more than get inside because a missile strike could occur with less than 20 minutes’ warning.
Miyagi also said funds for maintaining emergency shelters ran out after the Cold War ended.
The state has plans to reintroduce monthly tests of an attack-warning siren.
North Korea has launched missiles into the northern Pacific in recent months and has threatened to stage missile tests near Guam.
South Korea says Kim Jong Un’s rebuke against U.S. President Donald Trump marked the first time a North Korean leader directly issued a statement to the international community under his name.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Friday neither of the two men who ruled North Korea before Kim Jong Un — his father, Kim Jong Il, and his grandfather and national founder Kim Il Sung — issued any similar statement.
Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun says North Korea should stop provocations that would “lead to its own isolation and demise.”
South Korea calls North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s direct rebuke of President Donald Trump a “reckless provocation” that would deepen his country’s international isolation and lead to its demise.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told reporters Friday that North Korea must immediately stop such a provocation and return to talks on its nuclear disarmament.
Earlier Friday, Kim issued a rare statement calling Trump “deranged” and said he will “pay dearly” for his threats to destroy North Korea.
During his speech before the U.N. General Assembly earlier this week, Trump vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” if provoked.
South Korean media report North Korea’s top diplomat says his country may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean to fulfill leader Kim Jong Un’s vow to take the “highest-level” action against the United States.
Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho comments Thursday on the sidelines of a United Nations gathering followed an extraordinary direct statement by Kim in response to President Donald Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports that Ri told reporters in New York that a response “could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific.”
Ri reportedly added that “We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un.”
Such a test would be considered a major provocation by Washington and its allies.