16 May, 2017
North Korea Monday celebrated the launch of what appeared to be its longest-range ballistic missile yet tested in a bid to bring the U.S. mainland within reach, saying it was capable of carrying a "heavy nuclear warhead".
While the outside world condemns North Korea's missile and nuclear tests, inside the country, state media say the weapons are needed to defend against a perceived threat from the United States and South Korea.
North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness, but Monday's claim, if confirmed, would mark another big advance toward the North's goal of fielding a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US mainland.
"It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile that might enable them to reliably strike the US base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile".
The nose cone resembles that of the KN-08 ICBM the North is believed to be developing, and the lofted trajectory tests re-entry by putting the missile through extra stress, said Joshua Pollack of the USA -based Non-proliferation Review. Pyongyang's aggressive push to boost its weapons program also makes it one of the Trump administration's most urgent foreign policy worries, though Washington has struggled to settle on a policy.
A number of countries, including the United States, Japan and South Korea, criticized North Korea for conducting the latest missile launch.
More missile tests were forewarned "until the US and its vassal forces make a proper choice with reason".
Moon responded on Monday by sending special envoys to the United States, China, Germany, Japan and Russian Federation to explain his new government's plans and policy towards the defiant North.
Council members demanded that North Korea "conduct no further nuclear and ballistic missiles tests", in what appeared to be a final warning to North Korea before a new wave of sanctions could be adopted.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said on ABC television's George Stephanopolous show Sunday that the U.S. has been working well with China, Pyongyang's closest ally, and she raised the possibility of new sanctions against North Korea including on oil imports. The US has sent warships and submarines to waters off the Korean Peninsula, engaged in drills with South Korean and Japanese forces, and has pushed for stronger economic sanctions on Pyongyang.More news: Conte hints at Cesc stay
The missile flew 787 km (489 miles) on a trajectory reaching an altitude of 2,111.5 km (1,312 miles), KCNA said.
South Korea has said it was unaware of what North Korea was referring to, while the Central Intelligence Agency and the White House declined to comment on the May 6 statement from North Korea's Ministry of State Security.
That signalled a new phase in applying sanctions that curb exports of coal from North Korea, impose severe restrictions on banking and ban sales of luxury goods and equipment that could be of use to the military. Tokyo said the flight pattern could indicate a new type of missile.
(AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS) This picture taken on May 14, 2017 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15 shows a test launch of the ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location.
It was the North's second missile firing in two weeks, and came amid mounting worldwide concern over Pyongyang's progress in developing nuclear weapons that could be carried by long-range missiles.
This range is considerably longer than the estimated range of the Musudan missile, which showed a range of about 3,000 km in a test a year ago.
The UN Security Council will hold closed consultations about the launch on Tuesday afternoon.
"If the USA awkwardly attempts to provoke the DPRK, it will not escape from the biggest disaster in the history, Kim said, strongly warning the United States should not to disregard or misjudge the reality that its mainland and Pacific operation region are in the DPRK's sighting range for strike and that it has all powerful means for retaliatory strike", KCNA said.
Last week South Korea elected a new president, Moon Jae-In, who advocates reconciliation with Pyongyang and said at his inauguration that he was willing "in the right circumstances" to visit the North to ease tensions.
"The president expressed deep regret over the fact that this reckless provocation. occurred just days after a new government was launched in South Korea", senior presidential secretary Yoon Young-chan said.