NORTH Korea said on Tuesday it successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which flew a trajectory that an expert said, could allow a weapon to hit the United States state of Alaska.
The launch comes days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations are due to discuss steps to rein in Pyongyang’s weapons programs, which the North has pursued in defiance of United Nations Security Council sanctions.
The launch, which North Korea’s state media said was ordered and supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, sent the rocket 933 km reaching an altitude of 2,802 km.(580 miles) over a flight time of 39 minutes.
Officials from South Korea, Japan and the United States said the missile landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) after being launched near an airfield in Panghyon, about 100 km (60 miles) northwest of the North’s capital, Pyongyang, Reuters stated.
“The test launch was conducted at the sharpest angle possible and did not have any negative effect on neighbouring countries,” North Korea’s state media said in a statement.
The North also said its missiles were now capable of striking anywhere in the world.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who convened a national Security Council meeting, said the missile was believed to be an intermediate range type, but the military was also looking at the possibility it was an ICBM.
Stock markets in both South Korea and Japan fell after the missile launch, with the Kospi ending down 0.6 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei share average ending down 0.1 per cent.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he will ask the presidents of China and Russia to play more constructive roles in efforts to stop the Pyongyang’s arms program.
“Leaders of the world will gather at the G20 meeting. I would like to strongly call for solidarity of the international community on the North Korean issue,” Abe told reporters.
Japan said on Monday the United States, South Korea and Japan will have a trilateral summit on North Korea at the G20. China’s leader Xi Jinping will also be at the July 7-8 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.
U.S. President Donald Trump, responding to the latest launch, wrote on Twitter: “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” an apparent reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Hard to believe South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”, Trump said in a series of tweets.
China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called for calm and restraint after the launch.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said United Nations Security Council resolutions had clear rules on North Korean missile launches and China is opposed to Pyongyang violating those rules. He was speaking at a daily news briefing.
North Korea has conducted nuclear and missile tests to show defiance in the face of international pressure and to raise the stakes when Pyongyang sees regional powers getting ready for talks or sanctions, analysts say.
White House officials said Trump was briefed on the latest launch, which took place hours before Independence Day celebrations in the United States. North Korea has previously fired missiles around this holiday.