North Korea on Saturday scoffed at the successful test of an interceptor missile system by the United States earlier this week, calling it a “bluff” and ridiculing the U.S. for “a foolish act of those driven to despair,” in a statement issued by the Korean Central News Agency, the state-run media outlet of the North Korean government run by “supreme leader” Kim Jong Un.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Defense Department fired a new type of ground-based anti-missile rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in southern California, aiming to intercept an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile fired from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, located in the central Pacific Ocean. According to the Pentagon, the test was a dramatic success, scoring a “direct hit” on the incoming mock ICBM and “annihilating” the targeted missile.
“This test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” said Vice Admiral James D. Syring of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency following the successful shootdown.
While the Defense Department said that the test was not designed specifically to put North Korea on alert, the North Korean government made a point on Saturday of stating that North Korea still believes that it can target the U.S. mainland with nuclear missiles.
“They are now bluffing, bragging about the ‘success’ in the test and the efficiency of the missile interception system. But the DPRK considers it just as a foolish act of those driven to despair,” the KCNA statement said. “The last-ditch gambling of the Trump administration for a nuclear war will only bring earlier the day when the US mainland will turn into ashes.”
The North Korean statement claimed that the test was “a sign that (United States) preparations for unleashing a nuclear war against the DPRK have reached the final phase.” The DPRK is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.
The statement also claimed the U.S. missile defenses would prove ineffective against North Korean nuclear missiles.
“Their foolhardy moves go to clearly prove that the DPRK’s step for bolstering the nuclear force for self-defense is entirely just,” said an unnamed spokesperson for the North Korean Strategic Force, quoted by KCNA.
“They are sadly mistaken if they think such missile interception system can prevent the shower of nuclear strike by the Strategic Force of the KPA.”
The North Koreans, however, were not the only U.S. adversary to respond to the Tuesday anti-missile shootdown test. Russian President Vladimir Putin cautioned that U.S. effort to build up American anti-missile systems “destroys the strategic balance in the world,” adding that Russia would respond to the test.
“What is happening is a very serious and alarming process,” Putin said last week at an appearance in St. Petersburg, Russia, reported by the news agency Reuters. “In Alaska, and now in South Korea, elements of the anti-missile defense system are emerging. Should we just stand idly by and watch this? Of course not. We are thinking about how to respond to these challenges. This is a challenge for us.”
While North Korea is believed by experts to be at least three years away from developing a nuclear warhead compact enough to be carried by an ICBM, the country’s claims that American missile defense will prove ineffective against incoming missiles may have some substance. The U.S. has conducted 17 tests of ground-based missile defense systems, but only nine have been successful.
[Featured Image By Wong Maye-E/AP Images]