Seoul: North Korea claimed it has become a nuclear state by launching its latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from South Pyongyang Province capable of “striking all of the US continent”.
US Secretary of Defence James Mattis said it is the highest-ever ICBM fired by North Korea and the country could soon threaten the world. He was speaking at the White House as he briefed President Donald Trump on the missile launch.
The United Nations Security Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss North Korea’s latest missile launch.
The missile launched early on Wednesday appears to have flown about 1000 km before crashing into waters off Japan’s coast, the Pentagon said.
Minutes after the missile launch, South Korea conducted its own precision missile-firing drill, its military officials said.
“North Korea launched an unidentified ballistic missile eastward from the vicinity of Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province, at dawn today,” the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
South Korean and US officials are analyzing the trajectory, Yonhap reported.
The launch comes just days after the US re-designated the country as a state sponsor of terrorism as part of its drive to isolate Pyongyang over its nuclear activities.
North Korea fired ballistic missiles in August and September that flew over the northern island of Hokkaido before falling into the Pacific Ocean. Under its leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea also conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 drawing worldwide condemnation.
In the meantime, South Korea’s unification minister said on Tuesday that North Korea may announce the completion of its nuclear weapons programmes next year as the North has been working on its nuclear arsenal at a faster pace.
Cho Myoung-gyon made the remark as North Korea seeks to develop nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching as far as the US mainland.
“North Korea has been developing its nuclear weapons at a faster-than-expected pace. We cannot rule out the possibility that North Korea could announce its completion of a clear force within one year,” Cho told foreign correspondents in Seoul. He said that next year will be a key year for North Korea as the wayward regime marks the 70th anniversary of its establishment in 2018.