rth Korea says it could hit the ballistic missile button at any time. A new message appearing in State media on Sunday just over a week after Kim Jong Un kicked off the new year by announcing a long rage weapons test is right around the corner. There are signs it's more than just tough talk.
US Defense Chief Ash Carter responding on Sunday, calling Kim's weapons a, quote, serious threat, but also saying America stands ready to shoot down a North Korean missile headed for the US or its allies. Pyongyang has held regular weapons tests over the past year, and the US admits the launches have paid off, saying the newest missile models have stepped up in quality.
North Korea wants weapons that can survive atmospheric reentry, and potentially deliver a nuclear warhead. Experts say, in reality, that may take years to perfect, though a functional ballistic missile would threaten the continental US, some 9000 miles across the Pacific. Pyongyang state media says America is, quote, wholly to blame for the tests, calling them a desperate response to US hostility.