South Korea’s military on Monday said more analysis is needed to verify North Korea’s claim that Sunday’s test-launch of a ballistic missile was a new mid-to-long range rocket built to carry a nuclear warhead.
The missile landed in the sea near Russia in what Washington called a message to South Korea, days after its new president took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.
“The test-fire aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead,” the North’s official KCNA news agency reported.
The United Nations Security Council will meet on Tuesday at the request of the United States, South Korea and Japan to discuss a reaction to the missile launch, diplomats said on Sunday.
The Security Council has adopted six sanctions resolutions against North Korea because of its missile and nuclear weapons program. The US and its allies are advocating for an additional crackdown on banks and other companies that do business with Pyongyang.
KCNA, citing leader Kim Jong Un, accused the United States of “browbeating” countries that “have no nukes” and warned Washington not to misjudge the reality that its mainland is in the North’s “sighting range for strike.”
South Korea’s military said the missile flew 700 kilometres (430 miles) from the Kusong area northwest of Pyongyang. Japan said the missile reached an altitude of more than 2,000 km and flew for 30 minutes.
Experts said the altitude reached meant it was launched at an unusually high trajectory and if fired at a standard trajectory, it would have a range of at least 4,000 km (2,500 miles). That would put US military bases in Guam within range.
“North Korea’s latest successful missile test represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile,” Washington-based monitoring project, 38 North, said in an analysis issued on Sunday.
“It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile that might enable them to reliably strike the U.S. base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile,” it said.
The US military’s Pacific Command said the type of missile that was fired on Sunday was “not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile.”