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N Korea ‘ready’ for intercontinental ballistic missile tests

IANS | Seoul |

North Korea on Wednesday said it is ready to test launch intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), one day after the US successfully tested a defence system to intercept such projectiles.

The North Korean army is ready to conduct a real ICBM test at any time and place, if ordered by its leader Kim Jong-un, according to an article in the Rodong Sinmun, the official daily of the country's ruling Workers' Party.

In his New Year address to the nation, Kim said the country was in the final phase of developing an ICBM that would allow it to target the US with a nuclear weapon in the future, with the aim of aiding the survival of the communist regime.

In the editorial cited by state news agency KCNA, which also included Pyongyang's analysis of the US test, the North said no foreign forces could stop its progress in becoming a nuclear and missile power in the East.

Pyongyang said it will continue to strengthen its self-defence capacities in view of the hostile policy of the US, and warned the Donald Trump administration to choose the "correct" option between life and death, Efe news reported.

Washington said on Tuesday it successfully intercepted a dummy ICBM on the country's west coast, amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

Repeated weapons tests by the North — the last of which took place on Monday — have led to increased tensions on the peninsula, and a heated exchange of rhetoric with the Trump administration, which has also hinted at possible preemptive strikes.

On Tuesday, Pyongyang said Washington was seeking to unleash a nuclear war, and accused it of sending atomic bombers close to its territory following the latest missile test.