North Korea may be close to launching an ICBM

US soldiers stand guard during the

Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, a top global nuclear proliferation expert, said yesterday (June 11) that North Korea is just one step away from successfully launching ICBMs at the USA mainland.

State-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun announced: "The series of recent strategic weapons tests show that we are not too far away from test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile".

Last year, the North tested around two dozen missiles and two nuclear weapons, with the reclusive regime claiming that it can now mount a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile.

Still, senior USA officials acknowledged that China has indicated in the past that it would punish North Korea, only to dash the hopes of successive United States administrations.

"Trump blustered early this year that the DPRK's final access to a nuclear weapon that can reach the US mainland will never happen", KCNA wrote.

Pyongyang's repeated weapons tests have hardened Washington's rhetoric following Donald Trump's arrival in the White House, whose administration has hinted at the possibility of pre-emptive strikes.

The firing of cruise missiles, unlike ballistic missiles, does not violate the Security Council resolutions against North Korea.

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Pyongyang has defied global pressure by continuing to develop its missiles and nuclear programs, and has vowed to build a weapon capable of striking the continental U.S.

The State Department said US Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon would visit Seoul from Tuesday to Thursday next week after a stop in Tokyo on Monday to discuss responses to North Korea.

It took a few months, but North Korea finally responded to Trump's tweet on Sunday. "The distance between our country and NY is about 10,400 kilometers [6,462 miles]", said the Rodong Sinmun.

Apparently, with every new test, North Korea is getting closer to its ultimate target of hitting the U.S. mainland.

The report also said that, according to the Hong Kong business registry, the firm's owner, Chinese national Sun Sidong, owned a firm that used to own a ship seized past year by Egyptian authorities carrying 30,000 North Korean-made rocket propelled grenades hidden under a cargo of iron ore.

The last report released by C4ADS previous year highlighted the key role played by a prominent Chinese businesswoman and her vast conglomerate, resulting in United States and South Korean sanctions against the firm, Dandong Hongxiang, and specific individuals associated with it. "North Korea may seek negotiations with the U.S. when it completes nuclear tests and reaches the stage of deploying a long-range nuclear-tipped missile".

If the UAV is confirmed to be a North Korean one, it would suggest that the secretive communist nation has significantly improved the range of its drones over the past years.

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