North Korea leader Kim Jong Un determined to complete nuclear programme

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to complete his nuclear weapons programme in the face of strengthening sanctions after he inspected a powerful new intermediate-range missile that was fired over Japan.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carried Mr Kim's comments a day after US and South Korean militaries detected the missile launch from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

It travelled 3,700km (2,300 miles) before landing into the northern Pacific Ocean. It was the country's longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile.

The North has confirmed the missile as an intermediate range Hwasong-12, which it also launched over Japan on August 29.

The KCNA said Mr Kim expressed great satisfaction over the launch, which he said verified the "combat efficiency and reliability" of the missile and the success of efforts to increase its power. While the English version of the report was less straightforward, the Korean version quoted Mr Kim as declaring the missile as operationally ready.

Mr Kim also said the country, despite "limitless" international sanctions, has nearly completed the building of its nuclear weapons force and called for "all-state efforts" to reach the goal and obtain a "capacity for nuclear counterattack the US cannot cope with."

"As recognised by the whole world, we have made all these achievements despite the UN sanctions that have lasted for decades," the agency quoted Mr Kim as saying.

Mr Kim said the country's final goal is to "is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the US and make the US rulers dare not talk about military option for the DPRK," referring to North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Prior to the launches over Japan, North Korean had threatened to fire a salvo of Hwasong-12s toward Guam, the US Pacific island territory and military hub the North has called an "advanced base of invasion".

Friday's launch followed North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 in what it described as a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon built for its developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The North flight tested its Hwasong-14 ICBMs twice in July and analysts say the missiles could potentially reach deep into the US mainland when perfected.

AP


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