North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has claimed his country is almost ready to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), amid international pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its arms programs.
“Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing and ICBM rocket test launch preparation is in its final stage,” Kim said in his New Year’s message on television on Sunday.
He said Pyongyang would continue to boost its military capacity until the United States put an end to its regular military exercises in the region with rival South Korea.
North Korea has faced international pressure to quit its arms development and nuclear program but has nevertheless had steady growth in those areas in the past years. The country recently announced a series of technical breakthroughs in developing an ICBM to be fitted with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the United States. On September 9, North Korea said that it had conducted a successful “nuclear warhead explosion” test.
The country has been under a raft of United Nations (UN) sanctions over such tests. North Korea’s main ally, China, has joined in on the sanctions.
Pyongyang has defied the pressures by insisting on its right to develop technology for “self-defense.”