Thursday, 13 December, 2018

White House calls North Korea 'flagrant menace' after latest missile test

North Korea missile launch North Korea missile launch
Ellis Copeland | 17 May, 2017, 15:01

North Korea's missile program is progressing faster than expected, South Korea's defense minister said on Tuesday, hours after the U.N. Security Council demanded the Kim Jong Un's regime halt all nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

North Korea on Sunday tested what appears to be its longest-range ballistic missile to date, saying it was capable of carrying a heavy nuclear warhead.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has called for an immediate halt to North Korea's missile and nuclear tests, and U.S. Disarmament Ambassador Robert Wood said on Tuesday that China's leverage was key and Beijing could do more.

Experts said Sunday's successful missile launch signals major advances in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, such as mastery of re-entry technology and better engine performance.

The country's official Korean Central News Agency said the test firing of the new ground-to-ground strategic ballistic missile "Hwasong-12" was successful.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday the North's latest missile test was risky, but warned against attempts to "intimidate" Pyongyang.

The North's state-run media agency said Sunday's test involved a mid-to-long range ballistic missile that could be blasted off and out of the planet's atmosphere and then return, and quoted leader Kim Jong Un as saying the US mainland is in "sighting range for a strike".

A day before, North Korea fired off a missile that landed in the sea near Russian Federation.

Because of the tensions and fears of what could be a bloody and costly conflict, the South has hinted it may not continue to steadfastly cooperate with the U.S.

The test came just days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has called for closer engagement with the North, was inaugurated in Seoul.

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Pyongyang has regularly threatened to destroy the United States, which it accuses of pushing the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war by conducting recent military drills with South Korea and Japan.

South Korea's Defense Ministry said more analysis was needed to verify the North's claim on the rocket's technological features.

The missile was launched on an unusually high trajectory, with KCNA saying it flew to an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometres and travelled 787 kilometres before coming down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

Pyongyang has conducted two nuclear tests and dozens of missile launches since the start of 2016, prompting the United Nations to adopt two sanction resolutions previous year to ramp up pressure on North Korea.

In a unanimous statement, the 15-member UN Security Council on Monday said it was of vital importance that North Korea show "sincere commitment to denuclearization through concrete action and stressed the importance of working to reduce tensions".

In all, six sanction resolutions have been imposed on North Korea, since it carried out its first nuclear test in 2006.

"We consider (the missile test) counter-productive, harmful and unsafe", Putin told reporters after an global forum in Beijing.

The radar of an advanced US missile defense system in South Korea detected the launch of a North Korean ballistic missile two days ago, South Korea's defense minister told lawmakers on Tuesday.

"If the US awkwardly attempts to provoke the DPRK, it will not escape from the biggest disaster in history", he said.

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