|US and South Korean Ballistic Missile Exercise|
North Korean state media railed against its southern neighbor Thursday for staging a joint missile drill with the US following Pyongyang’s jarring intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch, saying it would be a “piece of cake” to destroy South Korea.
The report, published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), decried Seoul as "puppet military gangsters," claiming "It will be as easy as a piece of cake for the [North] to wipe out the puppet forces… as we are now able to destroy even the US mainland across the ocean."
Pyongyang claims the Hwasong-14 ICBM, is capable of striking the "heart of the United States" with "large heavy nuclear warheads." The ominous benchmark was passed despite US President Donald Trump’s Twitter proclamation before entering office that the development of such a missile "won't happen!"
The launch was timed to take place as the US was celebrating its Independence Day on July 4. "I guess they are not too happy with the gift package we sent them for the occasion of their Independence Day," North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said of the launch, according to KCNA.
After confirming the launch, US and South Korean forces fired deep strike missiles off South Korea’s east coast to counter "North Korea's destabilizing and unlawful actions" according to a US Army statement.
"Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world," said US Defense Secretary Rex Tillerson in a Tuesday statement. "Global action is required to stop a global threat."
Recently inaugurated South Korean President Moon Jae-in condemned the launch, and though he has previously called for dialogue with the North, he joined other nations in advocating tighter sanctions on the isolated country.
During a meeting of the UN Security Council Wednesday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) were "quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution" and that the US was prepared to use force against the North if need be.
She also put pressure on China, the DPRK’s chief ally, to be more active in addressing the North’s issues.
"The international community can cut off the major sources of hard currency to the North Korean regime," Haley said, proposing possible sanctions, "We can restrict the flow of oil to their military and their weapons programs. We can increase air and maritime restrictions. We can hold senior regime officials accountable."
Liu Jieyi, China’s Ambassador to the UN called the launch "unacceptable" and a "flagrant violation" of UN resolutions, saying that Beijing calls "on all the parties concerned to exercise restraint, avoid provocative actions and belligerent rhetoric, demonstrate the will for unconditional dialogue and work actively together to defuse the tension."
This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.