N.Korea confirms successful test-firing of ballistic missile

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Seoul, July 4 (IANS) North Korea claimed on Tuesday that it successfully test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier in the day on the orders of leader Kim Jong-un, the media reported.

According to state broadcaster KCTV, the Hwasong-14 missile was fired at around 9.40 a.m. (local time) from North Pyongan province and it reached an altitude of 2,802 km and flew 933 km for about 40 minutes before hitting a target in the East Sea.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in presided over an emergency National Security Council session to discuss the missile test, the second in less than a month, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The US military characterised it as a “land-based, intermediate-range” missile.

“The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) assessed that the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America,” the Hawaii-based Pacific Command said in a statement.

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“We continue to monitor North Korea’s actions closely.”

Army Colonel Roh Jae-cheon, a spokesman for Seoul’s Joint Chief of Staff (JCS), said South Korea and the US are still analysing the apogee of the missile and other details.

“Our military is maintaining full preparedness against the possibility of North Korea’s additional provocation,” he told the media.

According to Takahiro Hirano, public affairs officer from Japan’s Ministry of Defence, the missile flew into waters east of the Korean Peninsula and may have landed in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coastline, reports CNN.

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 km, enough to reach Alaska.

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Trump quickly reacted to the launch on Twitter.

“North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” he asked, referring to Kim Jong-un.

“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!”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the media that the launch “ignores repeated warnings from the international community”, and that “the launch this time shows its threat was further increased.”

Tuesday’s launch comes as the South Korean President plans to depart for Germany to attend the G20 summit, where he is scheduled to hold a trilateral meeting with Trump and Abe.

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