Grinning broadly, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delighted in the global furor created by his nation's first launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, vowing Wednesday to never abandon nuclear weapons and to keep sending Washington more "gift packages" of missile and atomic tests.
U.S. and South Korean forces, in response to Tuesday's launch, engineered a show of force for Pyongyang, with soldiers from the allies firing "deep strike" precision missiles into South Korean territorial waters. South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered the drills arranged with the United States to show "North Korea our firm combined missile response posture," his office said.
A North Korean test of an ICBM, confirmed later by U.S. and South Korean officials, is a momentous step forward for Pyongyang as it works to build an arsenal of long-range nuclear-armed missiles that can hit anywhere in the United States. The North isn't there yet — some analysts suggest it will take several more years to perfect such an arsenal, and many more tests — but a successful launch of an ICBM has long been seen as a red line, after which it would only be a matter of time — if the country isn't stopped.
Worry spread in Washington and at the United Nations, where the United States, Japan and South Korea requested a U.N. Security Council emergency session, to be held later Wednesday. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. response would include "stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable," using an acronym for the nation's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.