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U.S. calls for emergency session of U.N. Security Council after N. Korea test-fires ICBM

This picture taken and released on July 4, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location. North Korea declared on July 4 it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile -- a watershed moment in its push to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the mainland United States. (Photo credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed Tuesday that North Korea’s latest missile test was with an intercontinental ballistic missile, and the U.S. called for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council to deal with the issue.

Tillerson says that’s a new escalation of the threat posed to the United States and the world by North Korea.

“Global action is required to stop a global threat,” he said. “Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime.”

Tillerson also called for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and stated the US “will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.”

Tillerson says the U.S. will bring North Korea’s action before the U.N. Security Council.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi, president of the U.N. Security Council, that she wants an emergency session on North Korea, according to a tweet from Haley spokesman Jonathan Wachtel.

The emergency session will convene Wednesday afternoon, Wachtel wrote.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres strongly condemned the missile test.

“This action is yet another brazen violation of Security Council resolutions and constitutes a dangerous escalation of the situation,” Guterres said through his spokesman Stephane Dujarric. “The DPRK leadership must cease further provocative actions and comply fully with its international obligations.”

Tillerson’s statement provided the first confirmation of the U.S. conclusion that the missile was an ICBM.

Meanwhile, U.S. Army and South Korean military personnel conducted a joint exercise to counteract North Korea’s “destabilizing and unlawful actions,” a statement from the Army said.

The exercise used the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, and the Republic of Korea Hyunmoo Missile II, which fired missiles into territorial waters of South Korea along the East Coast.

 

North Korea said its first ICBM test on Tuesday morning reached a height of 2,802 kilometers (1,741 miles), according to state broadcaster Korea Central Television, which would be the highest altitude a North Korean missile had ever reached.

The U.S. military’s initial assessment was that North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile.

U.S. national security, military and diplomatic officials held a series of unexpected meetings on July Fourth to discuss what options might be needed if it was determined that North Korea conducted an intercontinental ballistic missile test.

U.S. military analysts believe North Korea launched a “probable” two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile Tuesday, according to a US official with knowledge of the post-launch analysis.

An earlier initial assessment by the U.S. indicated that the North Koreans launched an intermediate-range, single-stage KN-17 missile. But the revised analysis assesses with “high confidence” that Monday’s launch was an ICBM, the official said.

The ongoing assessment suggests a second-stage booster did ignite and produced 30 seconds of additional flight

The missile flew more than 550 miles before splashing down west of Japan, according to the source.

U.S. military technical experts are now reviewing all data and intelligence gathered by US satellites, aircraft and other systems to determine if North Korea’s claim that it fired an intercontinental missile is true. “The claim is being taken seriously,” one senior administration official said.

Top officials at the State Department and the Defense Department are participating in the meeting. If it is determined that an ICBM was launched, the goal is for President Donald Trump to potentially approve a “measured response,” one official told CNN. Nothing has been decided, but that response could include sending additional U.S. military assets such as troops, aircraft and ships to increase the U.S. presence in the region.

Diplomatic options are also being considered, including more sanctions.

This picture taken and released on July 4, 2017 by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location.
North Korea declared on July 4 it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile — a watershed moment in its push to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the mainland United States. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

If it is determined that an ICBM has been fired, the Pentagon will publicly communicate that all missile defense measures aboard Navy ships in the Western Pacific and land-based missiles in Alaska are fully ready, as are missile defense systems in South Korea and Japan. The aim is to send a message to Asian allies and the world that the U.S. stands ready to defend against North Korean aggression.

At this stage the U.S. believes that whatever capability the North Koreans have demonstrated it does not necessarily mean they can immediately launch a working missile that can reach as far as western Alaska. And it’s also not clear that the regime has a functioning miniaturized nuclear warhead.

However, U.S. military commanders have long said they plan against a worst case scenario. Admiral Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, recently said, “I know there’s some debate about the miniaturization advancements made by Pyongyang. But PACOM must be prepared to fight tonight, so I take him at his word. I must assume his claims are true — I know his aspirations certainly are.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis also recently underscored U.S. military policy when asked by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, “Is it the policy of the Trump administration to deny North Korea the capability of building an ICBM that can hit the American homeland with a nuclear weapon on top?”

Mattis answered simply “Yes, it is, Sen. Graham.”

U.S. military commanders recently have updated options for Trump, specifically in anticipation of a North Korean ICBM or underground nuclear test.

This picture taken and released on July 4, 2017 by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) reacting after the test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location.
North Korea declared on July 4 it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile — a watershed moment in its push to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the mainland United States. 
 (Photo credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)