North Korea has said the late-night firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile was meant as a “stern warning” for the United States.
The isolated country confirmed the test-launch of the ICBM on Friday, saying it flew for 47 minutes and 12 seconds while reaching a maximum altitude of 3,724.9 kilometres, according to its state news agency.
The missile flew 998 kilometres while successfully reaffirming re-entry capabilities of the rocket, it added.
The launch marked the second time this month North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has demonstrated a theoretical capability of striking a portion of US territory.
The test was ordered by the North’s leader, who was cited as saying the isolated state’s weapons programme is an invaluable asset that cannot be taken back or replaced.
US President Donald Trump condemned the North’s test of a second ICBM as a threat to the world, and in a statement described it as only the latest reckless and dangerous action by Pyongyang.
“By threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy, and deprive its people,” Mr Trump said in a statement.
“The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.”
Japan hits out at missile launch
The missile was launched on a heightened trajectory that limited the distance it travelled, but data collected by the US showed it was theoretically capable of traveling at least 5,500 kilometres on a normal trajectory.
That is the minimum distance to be classified by the US as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
“We assess that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, as had been expected,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.
He said the missile was estimated to have travelled about 1,000 kilometres before landing in the Sea of Japan, while the North American Aerospace Defense Command determined the missile did not pose a threat to North America.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that officials were analysing the launch and that he had called a meeting of the National Security Council.
“I have received information that North Korea once again conducted a missile firing,” he said.
“We will immediately analyse information and do our utmost to protect the safety of the Japanese people.”
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the launch was a clear violation of United Nations resolutions.
He added that the missile flew for about 45 minutes and there had been no immediate reports of damage.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK said the coast guard issued safety warnings to aircraft and ships.
South Korea wants more THAAD units after launch
South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also reported the late-night test, with President Moon Jae-in calling an immediate National Security Council meeting.
Mr Moon has since ordered discussions to be held with the United States on deploying additional THAAD anti-missile defence units following the launch, his office said.
He also wanted the United Nations Security Council to discuss new and stronger sanctions against the North, the presidential Blue House said following the meeting.