North Korea could develop missiles that can reach Europe sooner than expected, the French defence minister has warned.
Reuters reports that Florence Parly told the French military in Toulon there are risks to the continent from intercontinental ballistic missiles being built by Kim Jong Un’s regime.
Her comments came after Russian leader Vladimir Putin said that any new sanctions against North Korea because of its nuclear programme would be “useless” and “ineffective”.
Ms Parly said in a speech: “The scenario of an escalation towards a major conflict cannot be discarded.
“Europe risks being within range of (North Korean President) Kim Jong Un’s missiles sooner than expected.”
A report overnight said that the North is moving what appears to be an intercontinental ballistic missile towards its west coast.
South Korea’s Asia Business Daily cited an intelligence source as saying the rocket was spotted moving on Monday, the day after Pyongyang’s sixth and largest nuclear test.
The North Korean missile programme’s launch facilities are on its west coast – and the move was reportedly made during the night to avoid surveillance.
South Korea’s defence ministry said it could not confirm the report, but it said on Monday that its neighbour was ready to launch more missiles.
In July, North Korea tested two ICBMs capable of flying about 6,200 miles, threatening parts of the US mainland.
The closest European country to North Korea is Norway, which is a straight-line distance of around 3,900 miles away.
But that doesn’t take into consideration the fact that a missile would have to leave the atmosphere and return to earth.
The minister’s warning comes days after North Korea claimed to have carried out a hydrogen bomb test – estimated by South Korea to have been three times as powerful as the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
One of North Korea’s top diplomats said his country was ready to send “more gift packages” to the United States.
Han Tae Song, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told a conference on disarmament: “I am proud of saying that just two days ago on the 3rd of September, DPRK (North Korea) successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test for intercontinental ballistic rocket under its plan for building a strategic nuclear force.
“The recent self-defence measures by my country, DPRK, are a ‘gift package’ addressed to none other than the US,” he added.
“The US will receive more ‘gift packages’ from my country as long as its relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK,” he concluded without elaborating.
Theresa May’s spokesperson told reporters that the North Korea nuclear programme threatens the whole international community and the whole international community, including China, must work together to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.