North Korea claims to have test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile

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Seoul: North Korea has claimed to have test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday, despite international condemnation and calls for dialogue.

This appears to contradict South Korean and US officials, who had earlier said that Tuesday’s launch was of an intermediate-range missile.



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North Korea claims successful ICBM launch

The hermit kingdom claims to have successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, which Japan says landed in their exclusive economic zone.

The missile was launched at around 10:40am AEST from North Pyongan province, the country’s state broadcaster KCTV announced.

The launch, which North Korea’s state media said was ordered and supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, sent the rocket 933km with a flight time of 39 minutes and reached an altitude of 2802 kilometres.

In a special broadcast on state-run television, Pyongyang said the Hwasong-14 missile landed in the Sea of Japan.

South Korea had earlier said it was investigating the possibility that the rocket had been an ICBM, while US Pacific Command described it as an “intermediate range ballistic missile.”

Tuesday’s launch came days before a summit of G20 leaders in Hamburg, Germany, and a day after US President Donald Trump called China’s President Xi Jinping and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the nuclear threat from Pyongyang.

Mr Trump, who has turned to Beijing for help in reining in North Korea, sent a series of tweets after the launch, apparently ridiculing the North Korean leader and urging China to do more.

“North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” he wrote.

“Hard to believe that 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!”

In May the US carried out a successful missile interception test amid fears that Pyongyang was attempting to develop a nuclear weapon that could strike the US mainland.

In his phone call with My Xi, Mr Trump had made it clear that Washington was prepared to act alone to pressure Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing administration officials.

The White House had only stated afterwards that the two leaders “reaffirmed their commitment to a de-nuclearised Korean Peninsula.”

Mr Abe said Tuesday’s launch showed “increasing threats” from North Korea and that he would urge Mr Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin to play a “more constructive” role in dealing with North Korea at the G20.

North Korea has ramped up its nuclear program over the past year and has staged six missile launches since South Korean President Moon Jae In took office on May 10.

On Monday, China warned that if tensions in the region continued to escalate, the situation could “get out of control” with “disastrous” consequences.

China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi said Beijing would push for the US and South Korea to halt military exercises on the Korean Peninsula in exchange for North Korea suspending its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

AP with DPA/Reuters

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