Russian lawmakers who recently traveled to Pyongyang say North Korea will not disarm despite continued pressure from the international community.
According to Reuters, the Russian delegation found that the North Korean government would not even entertain the idea of giving up its nuclear weapons.
“They said they won’t disarm, there cannot even be any talk of that,” lawmaker Svetlana Maximova said.
Another Russian trip attendee noted that Pyongyang was also “morally ready” for war if North Korea perceived the U.S. to be an imminent threat.
“They do not want war, they want to live normally, but if there is a threat from the United States, then they are morally ready for that war,” lawmaker Kazbek Taisayev said.
On Wednesday North Korea successfully launched its new Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) after a more than two month missile test hiatus.
The new nuclear-capable projectile reached an altitude of roughly 4,475 km (2,780 miles) and traveled 950 km (590 miles) during its 53-minute flight – potentially putting targets such as Washington D.C. within range.
Analysis of photos and videos of the new ICBM by Michael Elleman, an IISS Senior Fellow for Missile Defence, suggests that North Korea can almost certainly strike the U.S. with a reliable nuclear weapon.
“[I]t now appears that the Hwasong-15 can deliver a 1,000-kg payload to any point on the US mainland,” Elleman writes at 38 North. “North Korea has almost certainly developed a nuclear warhead that weighs less than 700 kg, if not one considerably lighter.”
Despite North Korea continuing to show its capability, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham alleged Wednesday that the U.S. was “not going to let this crazy man in North Korea have the capability to hit the homeland.”
“If we have to go to war to stop this, we will,” Graham told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “If there’s a war with North Korea it will be because North Korea brought it on itself, and we’re headed to a war if things don’t change.”
Some experts are increasingly calling on the U.S. to begin negotiations with Pyongyang without conditions of denuclearization.
“[D]iplomacy is worth the risk of failure, because to not engage them just gives them time to scale up,” Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at California’s Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said on Twitter Wednesday.
President Donald Trump held phone conversations with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following the launch and told reporters at the White House that “We will take care of it.”
North Korea’s nuclear weapons program could be completed as early as next year. Pyongyang has also hinted at a possible atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean.