North Korea has issued what it crowed was a “stern warning” to the United States with the late-night firing of another intercontinental ballistic missile.
The isolated country confirmed the test-launch of the ICBM on Friday, saying it flew for 47 minutes and 12 seconds and reached an altitude of 3,724.9 kilometres, according to the state news agency.
The missile covered 998 kilometres and successfully demonstrated its re-entry capabilities, 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 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, flatter trajectory – the minimum distance required to be classified by the US as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the missile splashed down in the Sea of Japan and had been determined as no threat by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which tracked the flight and had calculated its trajectory within seconds of launch.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters 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.
Meanwhile, reaction was also swift in South Korea, which said it would consider placing additional launchers of an advanced US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system on its soil.
Two THAAD units have been deployed by the US military in a southern South Korean region, with four more planned but delayed over concerns about their environmental impact.