North Korea Celebrates ICBM, US Calls for Global Action


05 July, 2017

The United States has called for the world to act after North Korea's leader celebrated the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM.

North Korea launched a long-range missile, known as the Hwasong-14, on Tuesday. The missile travelled 933 kilometers and reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers.

American military officials said it went down in the Sea of Japan after 37 minutes. U.S. experts said the missile appears to have a range that could reach the American state of Alaska.

South Korea's Defense Ministry said it was unable to confirm whether North Korea had mastered re-entry technology. Re-entry technology is necessary for an ICBM to strike targets over great distances.

An ICBM must be able to travel long distances, leave the Earth's atmosphere and re-enter it, without breaking apart, in order to hit its target.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the missile was a "gift" to the United States on its "Independence Day," according to the state news agency KCNA. It said that North Korea will not give up its weapons until the U.S. stops its hostile policy against the North.

The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is seen during its test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, July 5 2017
The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is seen during its test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, July 5 2017

Responding to the launch, U.S. and South Korean soldiers fired missiles into South Korean waters on Tuesday. The exercises showed a missile "system [that] can be rapidly deployed and engaged [with] deep strike precision capability," according to a statement from the U.S. Army.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the missile test "a new escalation of the threat "to the United States and its allies. Tillerson also warned that any country helping North Korea or failing to carry out United Nations restrictions on the country "is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime".

Trump's response to missile launch

In his first response after the launch, U.S. President Donald Trump asked China on Twitter to "put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"

On Wednesday, the president criticized China directly on Twitter. He wrote "Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!"

About 90 percent of North Korean trade comes through China. However, China has resisted putting too much economic pressure on its neighbor and ally.

The American president is heading to Europe to meet with leaders of the Group of 20 nations. Trump is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the meeting in Hamburg, Germany. North Korea's weapons program is expected to be among the issues discussed.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Hai Do adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on AP, Reuters and VOA News reports. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

altitude –n. height, distance from the surface of the earth, usually sea level

range –n. a distance that can be traveled

rapidly –adv. quickly

engaged –adj. to be put into or brought into fighting

precision –adj. very exact

escalation –n. an increase in intensity, to become worse

abet –v. to help, encourage or support a criminal

regime –n. a form of government