North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday the second flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile demonstrated his country can hit the U.S. mainland.
The Korean Central News Agency said that Kim expressed "great satisfaction" after the Hwasong-14 missile reached a maximum height of 3,725 kilometers (2,314 miles) and traveled 998 kilometers (620 miles) before accurately landing in waters off Japan. The agency said that the test was aimed at confirming the maximum range and other technical aspects of the missile it says was capable of delivering a "large-sized, heavy nuclear warhead."
Analysts had estimated that the North's first ICBM on July 4 could have reached Alaska, and said that the latest missile appeared to extend that range significantly, to Los Angeles and even Chicago.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the missile launched Friday flew for about 45 minutes – about five minutes longer than the ICBM on July 4 – and landed west of Japan's island of Hokkaido. He said Japan has lodged a strong protest with North Korea.
"North Korea's repeated provocative acts absolutely cannot be accepted," he said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch "a serious and real threat" to the security of Japan, and said it would cooperate closely with the US, South Korea and other nations to further step up pressure on North Korea.
Immediately after the launch, U.S. and South Korean forces conducted live-fire exercises. South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo called for the deployment of strategic U.S. military assets which usually means stealth bombers and aircraft carriers as well as additional launchers of an advanced U.S. anti-missile system.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched from North Korea's northern Jagang province near the border with China. President Moon Jae-in was presiding over an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, Moon's office said.
Call for sanctions
Reacting to the missile launch, France called on fellow members of the UN Security Council to swiftly adopt "strong and additional sanctions" against North Korea.
"Only maximum diplomatic pressure is likely to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table," the French foreign ministry's spokeswoman said in a statement.
In Washington, the Pentagon said top-ranking US and South Korean army officials discussed military options after the launch, reaffirming the "ironclad commitment to the US-Republic of Korea alliance".
Washington and its allies have watched with growing concern as Pyongyang has made significant progress toward its goal of having all of the US within range of its missiles to counter what it labels as US aggression. The progress it has made towards producing nuclear warheads to fit on those missiles is less clear.
US President Donald Trump has said he will not allow North Korea to obtain an ICBM that can deliver a nuclear warhead.
There was no immediate confirmation of Friday's missile launch by North Korea. The day's broadcast on state-run television had already ended when the news broke at around midnight Pyongyang time.
July 27 is a major national holiday in North Korea called Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War Day, marking the day when the armistice was signed ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
That armistice is yet to be replaced with a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula technically in a state of war.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)
Date created : 2017-07-28