US President Donald Trump today slammed North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un for testing the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and pressed Pyongyang’s closest ally China to make a “heavy move” to “end this nonsense once and for all”.
The missile test, which was conducted on the orders of the country’s leader Kim reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometres, according to state broadcaster Korea Central Television (KCTV).
David Wright, director of the Global Security Programme at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said if US Pacific Command reports on the distance and flight time of the missile are correct, the missile could have a maximum range of 6,700 kilometres.
“That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska,” Wright wrote on the All Things Nuclear blog.
North Korea’s claim of testing an ICBM, however, contradicted earlier South Korean and US assessments that it had an intermediate range.
The single launch of a land-based, intermediate range ballistic missile occurred near the Panghyon Airfield, the US Pacific Command said.
“The President has been briefed on the latest report of a North Korean ballistic missile launch,” according to the White House.
Reacting to the development on Twitter, Trump said, “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy (Kim) have anything better to do with his life?”
“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!” he tweeted.
Later, North Korea proclaimed that it had “successfully” tested an intercontinental ballistic missile.
A female announcer was quoted as saying on state Korean Central Television that the “landmark” test of a Hwasong-14 missile was overseen by Kim.
The North was “a strong nuclear power state” and had “a very powerful ICBM that can strike any place in the world”, the announcer said.
The US has been urging China – North Korea’s closest diplomatic ally – to pressure the Pyongyang regime to end its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
According to United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), the missile was tracked for 37 minutes and landed in the Sea of Japan.
“We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment. We continue to monitor North Korea’s actions closely,” the PACOM said.
“US Pacific Command stands behind our iron-clad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan,” it said.
This was North Korea’s 11th missile test this year and comes amid increasing frustration from Trump about the lack of progress in curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
The United Nations has imposed multiple sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programmes.