The North's KCNA news agency said Sunday's launch tested its capability to carry a "large-size heavy nuclear warhead." On the respected 38 North website, aerospace engineering specialist John Schilling said it appeared to demonstrate an intermediate-range ballistic missile that could "reliably strike the USA base at Guam" in the Pacific, 3,400 kilometres away.
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.
The pledge came at a meeting between a senior North Korean foreign ministry official and diplomatic representatives from four Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam and Laos, over its latest test of a new ballistic missile. The missile covered a distance of roughly 800 kilometers while reaching an altitude of over 2,000 kilometers, in what appears to be the longest-range missile tested by Pyongyang to date. Pundits believe Pyongyang's latest provocation will provide a hard litmus test for South Korea's newly-elected President Moon Jae-in.
Newly elected President Moon Jae-in said the South had to "learn to say 'no, '" to the USA and to exhaust diplomatic ways of resolving issues with the North.
South Korea said on Monday it will send special envoys to the United States, China, Japan, Russia, and Germany to establish firmer ties as tensions mount on the Korean Peninsula in the wake of a missile launch by North Korea over the weekend, according to Reuters.
Aside from Pyongyang's space launches, Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in the USA told AFP: "This is the longest-range missile North Korea has ever tested".
An image released by the state-run KCNA shows Kim Jong Un (center) reacting during the test launch of a Hwasong-12 on Sunday.
But experts have long believed that manufacturing a compact warhead for a long-range missile capable of striking the United States is one of the last remaining technologies North Korea has yet to master.
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".
"There is enormous pressure when a missile re-enters the atmosphere".