North Korea on Wednesday claimed that a new U.S.-South Korean ballistic missile range agreement gave it justification to conduct another trial of an extended-distance high-altitude missile, the New York Times reported.
The threat from the North Korean Foreign Ministry followed by one day Pyongyang's assertion that it possesses ballistic missiles that could reach the continental United States. The Stalinist nation has yet to conduct a fully successful long-range missile test. Still, the country is understood to have an arsenal of intermediate-range missiles that could target U.S. military assets in Guam.
Pyongyang is upset that Washington agreed in the new deal to allow Seoul to almost triple the permitted range of its domestically produced high-altitude missiles from 186 miles to 497 miles.
The bilateral missile accord "poured cold water on all efforts to stabilize the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, including our restraint from launching long-range missiles," the Foreign Ministry said in released remarks. "Now the United States will have nothing to say even if we launch a long-range missile for military purposes."
Pyongyang said the missile agreement strengthened its view that the U.S. military is plotting an assault on North Korean territory. Therefore, it is "only natural for us to do everything we can to strengthen our capabilities of striking the base of aggression with missiles," according to the statement.
Analysis of recently taken satellite pictures of North Korea's missile launch complex at Musudan-ri suggests the regime has halted construction work on a launch platform believed to be intended for firing larger-sized missiles. The North, though, is believed to still be modifying an older launch platform.
Seoul-based North Korea specialist Koh Yu-hwan told the Associated Press it would be surprising if Pyongyang did not react to news of the U.S.-South Korea deal, but that the regime would likely refrain from any new hostilities until after South Korean and U.S. presidential voting is over.