August 31, 2017 09:40
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hailed his country's launch of a medium-range ballistic missile over Japan as a "good experience in... rocket operation for an actual war," according to the official [North] Korean Central News Agency Wednesday.
North Korean state media published pictures of Kim watching the launch of the Hwasong-12 from Pyongyang Sunan International Airport on Tuesday.
Kim is seen sitting and looking relaxed behind a desk on an airstrip with binoculars at his side. Calling the launch a "meaningful prelude to containing" the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, Kim added, "It is necessary to positively push forward the work... by conducting more ballistic rocket launching drills with the Pacific as a target in the future."
He added the North will "continue to watch the U.S. demeanors as already declared and decide its future action according to them." Kim said the launch of the missile, which flew over northern Japan on the day that marks the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910, was a bold mission to leave Japan "flabbergasted."
But he did not mention South Korea in another indication that it is determined to sideline Seoul and only talk directly with the U.S.
U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at the North on Tuesday, tweeting, "Talking is not the answer." But he was immediately contradicted by his Defense Secretary James Mattis, who added, "We're never out of diplomatic solutions."
The international community has repeatedly tightened sanctions, but the North is inching ever closer to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that can be mounted with a nuclear warhead.
Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in spoke over the telephone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday and said the launch over Japan "was violence against a neighboring country."
Presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said, "Moon and Abe agreed that pressure on North Korea should increase to an extreme level so that the North will come forward for dialogue."
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