PYONGYANG, Dprk. – Frightening images of North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un grinning maniacally while a powerful mountain-based laser weapon obliterated an asteroid as it passed by earth at more than sixty-six thousand miles per hour surfaced online early Saturday, prompting U.S. and South Korean officials to call for increased sanctions against the authoritarian regime.
North Korea’s state-run news agency, KCNA, described Friday’s test as a “glorious victory,” saying the Hananim-ui Son, which translates to “Hand of God,” is capable of “vaporizing” the U.S.-led International Space Station in a single burst. South Korean intelligence officials say the laser weapon, which is believed to be housed near a military installation along the country’s mountainous border with China, poses a grave threat to stability in the region.
In a series of tweets fired off Saturday evening, U.S. President Donald J. Trump renewed a promise he’d made in early August, saying North Korea – which has since launched two ICBMs capable of striking Guam over Japan and has conducted its sixth nuclear test – will be met with “fire and fury” if it continues to make threats against the United States. “North Korea best quit while they’re ahead,” President Trump tweeted, later adding that his administration is exploring “many” military options.
North Korea’s latest display of increasingly advanced military might has left experts around the world in a state of disbelief. “No one knew they were capable of developing technology of this magnitude,” Nicolai Rehcenko, a former Russian cosmonaut and weapons developer, told Russia Today. Rehcenko, like countless others in the defense industry, said North Korea’s space weapons program is advancing significantly faster than anyone ever expected. “The fear now is that they will soon have the ability to target the moon,” Rehcenko said, adding that such a strike could trigger a mass extinction on earth.
Friday’s test of the Hananim-ui Son laser weapon, which NASA officials say was visible from space, comes as the United States struggles to formulate a viable response to North Korea’s previous weapons tests, including the recent below-ground detonation of a thermonuclear bomb. Speaking at Joint Base Andrews, an Air Force installation just outside of Washington, D.C., on Friday, President Donald Trump suggested a rapid military response to the North Korean threat could be in the works, saying, “We’ll see.”