North Korea missile test is huge step forward

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.

According to US officials that in this weekend's test the KN-17 missile launched on a "lofted" vertical trajectory that sent it 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) in altitude.

North Korea earlier said the missile it had tested on Sunday was a new type of rocket capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead.

The North has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of past year in its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States - something President Donald Trump has vowed "won't happen".

"It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediaterange ballistic missile that might enable them to reliably strike the USA base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile".

North Korea's embassy in Beijing issued a fresh warning to the new South Korean administration of Moon Jae-in, warning Seoul against strengthening the security alliance with "foreign powers" like Japan and the United States. Guam is 3,400 km from North Korea.

Russian Federation responded to the missile launch by "putting its eastern air defenses on high alert", according to the CNN report. Tokyo says the flight pattern could indicate a new type of missile. "This is an important step there is still a window for trying to negotiate with North Korea capping its nuclear and missile programs at a point where it is much less of a threat to the United States".

Kim Jong-un personally oversaw the missile launch on Sunday, and was pictured celebrating with his officials afterward. A North Korean diplomat in charge of US affairs said over the weekend that Pyongyang would hold talks with Washington "under the right conditions".

"The president expressed deep regret over the fact that this reckless provocation. occurred just days after a new government was launched in South Korea", senior presidential secretary Yoon Young-chan said. Each round has increasingly put a stranglehold on the country for conducting underground nuclear tests on five occasions so far and for test-firing long-range and other ballistic missiles it is banned from using.

There's also a political victory for North Korea.

The South Korean, Japanese and USA militaries say the missile flew for half an hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan. Unlike multiple past attempts at a missile launch, the medium to long range missile featured in the video was successfully fired and represents a significant technical advance for the reclusive Communist nation.

Analysts said the test suggested an actual range of 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) or more if flown for maximum distance. The missile is known to be developed with the technology applied to submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

North Korea carried out another missile test Sunday and, unlike the test last month, this one was a success.

North Korea launched a new IRBM, known as Pukguksong-2 in North Korea, from the same site on February 12.

  • Jon Douglas