North Korea

Kim Jong Un vows to develop more powerful weapons

Last Thursday, North Korea launched its long-range Hwasong-17, which analysts say was designed to reach US mainland.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to develop more powerful means of attack, days after the country's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch in more than four years.

A North Korean statement suggests they might perform additional launches or even test a nuclear device soon. 

This comes as the country continues to push to modernise its arsenal and increase pressure on the US administration while nuclear diplomacy remains stalled.

Mr Kim played a starring role in a bizarre North Korea missile test-fire video, when last Thursday, the country performed its 12th round of weapons tests this year.

It launched the newly developed, long-range Hwasong-17, which analysts say was designed to reach anywhere in the US mainland.

According to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Mr Kim, during a photo session with scientists and others involved in the Hwasong-17 test, expressed a resolve to build up the country's attack capability to cope with threats.

KCNA quoted Mr Kim saying: "Only when one is equipped with the formidable striking capabilities, overwhelming military power that cannot be stopped by anyone, one can prevent a war, guarantee the security of the country and contain and put under control all threats and blackmails by the imperialists."

Watch: Kim Jong Un played a starring role in a bizarre North Korea missile test-fire video.

North Korea said the Hwasong-17 flew to a maximum altitude of 3,880 miles and travelled 680 miles during a 67-minute flight before landing in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

Outside experts said if the missile is fired on a standard trajectory, flatter than the steep test angle, it could fly as far as 9,320 miles, enough to reach anywhere in the US mainland and beyond.

Believed to be about 82ft long, the Hwasong-17 is the North's longest-range weapon and, by some estimates, the world's biggest road-mobile ballistic missile system.

Its size suggests the missile is meant to carry multiple nuclear warheads, given the North already has single-warhead ICBMs that could also hit most of the US.

US-led diplomacy aimed at convincing North Korea to denuclearise in return for economic and political benefits largely has stalled since 2019  – the Biden administration has urged North Korea to return to talks without any preconditions.

Some experts say Mr Kim could soon conduct another ICBM launch, a launch of a satellite-carrying rocket or a test of a nuclear device as he works to perfect his weapons technology, putting pressure on the US.