North Korea to pursue nuclear program; defies USA sanctions

USA officials have seen evidence that North Korea's 33-year-old dictator, Kim Jong-un, checked into a new residence near the test site of a failed missile launch Wednesday near the port city of Wonsan on North Korea's east coast, according to one official.

A senior U.S. official in Washington said on Monday that the Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions as part of measures to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threat.

The nuclear-armed North is under several sets of United Nations sanctions over its atomic and ballistic missile programmes.

North Korea launched six Musudans between April and June past year from an area near Wonsan, with all but one exploding in mid-air.

The American military detected what it assessed as a failed North Korean missile launch yesterday morning, the US Pacific Command said in a statement.

US defense officials have seen evidence that North Korea has completed digging new tunnels around the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, but it still has to move more equipment into the area for a possible test, the official added.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that under former president Barack Obama the U.S. stepped up cyber attacks against North Korea to try to sabotage its missiles before launch or just as they lift off.

With the latest claim of a North Korean missile launch, the secretive state's military arsenal is once again in the news.

North Korea conducted two nuclear testes and 24 missile tests in 2016. It is believed to be working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has vowed to expand his country's missile capabilities, while repeatedly threatening strikes against South Korea, Japan, United States, and the West in general, according to Newsweek.

"I can tell you for sure that the intercontinental ballistic rockets of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] will be launched at any time and at any place as decided by our Supreme Leadership", Choe told Reuters. They involve strategic nuclear bombers and a nuclear submarine that recently entered South Korean ports, Choe said.

North Korea has been under sanctions for "half a century" but the communist state survives by placing an emphasis on juche or "self-sufficiency", he said.

At a news briefing after the launch Wednesday, Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokeswoman for China, cautioned the USA and other concerned countries to "exercise restraint", according to CNN.

North Korean leader Kim said in January his country was close to test-launching an ICBM.

The launch and engine test are in grave violation of DPRKs worldwide obligations under [numerous] UN Security Council resolutions, said the 15-member Security Council in a statement on Thursday.

It is also thought that North Korea has sold missiles to Iran.

The U.S. military has begun to move the Air Force WC-135 Constant Phoenix to Japan for surveillance purposes.

Tillerson said it was too early to talk about any sort of compromise that could include North Korea pressing pause on its development of missile technology in exchange for a scaling back of the military exercises - though he didn't rule out the possibility.

  • Leroy Wright