June 9 (UPI) -- North Korea claimed it is closer to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially hit any target in the continental United States.
The statement published in Workers' Party Rodong Sinmun on Saturday, local time, comes days after the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency told the U.S. House Armed Services subcommittee there are still "reliability concerns" with a system of ground-based interceptors that successfully blocked a mock North Korean missile in a recent test.
"The ultimate collapse of the United States' hostile [North Korea] policy is a historical inevitability," the headline of the Rodong statement read. "The recent tests of our strategic weapons confirm that the time for a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile is never far away."
The article echoed a statement from Kim Jong Un, who in his New Year's speech said the country is in the "final steps" of preparations for a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
North Korea has not tested an ICBM in 2017, launching instead an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-12, on May 14, the medium-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 on May 21, the KN-06 surface-to-air missile on May 27, a short-range Scud missile on May 29 and four anti-ship missiles on Wednesday, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
"The United States dared not even think it would go to war with a country that possesses nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic rockets," the newspaper stated. "The distance from [North Korea] to New York is about [870 miles], all targets in the United States are within our reach."
The Pentagon has been preparing for a potential North Korea strike with a test of a $36-billion interceptor system.
The U.S. military has said the interception "mimicked that of an actual operation scenario" and was successful, but Vice Adm. James Syring of the Missile Defense Agency said this week "reliability concerns with the system" remain.
"It's not just the interceptor, it's the entire system. We're not there yet," Syring said.