The North Korean government has claimed to have deployed rockets that are capable of striking targets 6,000 miles away in the continental U.S.
A spokesman for North Korea’s National Defense Commission told the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency: "We are not concealing the fact that our revolutionary military [which include] strategic rocket forces, have [placed] not only the South Korean enemy forces and U.S forces in the Korean peninsula, but also Japan, Guam and even the U.S. mainland within its target range.”
The statement from Pyongyang comes on the heels of a tightened defense agreement signed by South Korea and the U.S., under which Seoul will develop more conventional missiles with a range of just under 500 miles (which would allow it to strike any target within the borders of its North Korean neighbor).
Predictably, North Korea’s ally, China, blasted the upgraded security pact between Seoul and Washington, although the foreign ministry in Beijing assured the international community that it does not want to see "an escalated military confrontation" in the region.
The stakes were raised last week when Pak Kil-yon, North Korea's vice-foreign minister, told the U.N. General Assembly in New York that "a thermonuclear war" could erupt on the Korean Peninsula due to South Korea’s provocative military maneuvers.
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However, some foreign observers are not convinced that Pyongyang has the capability to strike the U.S.
"There is no evidence that North Korea has succeeded in tests of a missile with a range long enough to hit the U.S. mainland," Yun Duk-Min, a professor at Korea National Diplomatic Academy, said, according to the Agence France Presse.