A North Korean envoy has informed Reuters that the nation has “nothing to fear” from additional U.S. sanctions, and that the nation intends to pursue development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and nuclear first-strike capabilities in response.
The statement comes about a day after North Korea conducted a successful test of a new rocket booster that they say is for their space program. Those engines would also fit into the nation’s development of missiles capable of hitting the United States mainland.
North Korea’s latest show of strength and increasingly aggressive rhetoric comes on the heels of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s latest trip to Asia. In an unusually press-absent trip, Tillerson visited China, South Korea and Japan, at one point repeating Chinese President Xi Jinping’s own words to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. When asked about potential American responses to North Korean aggression, Tillerson said a military response was “on the table,” but only to the extent that it represented a proximate response.
“If North Korea takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response,” he said.
The North Korean test represents its second show of strength in as many months during a major diplomatic visit between the United States and an Asian ally. In February, North Korea fired missiles into the Sea of Japan as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago.