The Guardian reports: North Korea is capable of fulfilling its New Year’s threat to start testing an intercontinental ballistic missile in 2017, bringing a long-brewing standoff with the US to the boil in the first year of a Trump administration, weapons experts have warned.
Those experts said the regime in Pyongyang was likely to encounter multiple test failures in developing a two- or three-stage missile capable of reaching the continental United States or Europe, and that it would probably take a few years for such a weapon to become operational. But the first test would trigger a foreign policy crisis in Washington and western capitals.
The looming crisis has sharpened into a battle of personal wills even before Donald Trump takes office on 20 January. On New Year’s Day, the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, declared the country had “entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM]”.
He further warned that his country would continue to build up its “capability for preemptive strike” as long as the US and its regional allies kept up their own nuclear threat and “stop their war games they stage at our doorstep”. [Continue reading…]