World Media

North Korea carries out new ballistic missile test

North Korea carries out new ballistic missile test

North Korea has launched a ballistic missile that flew as far as 800km (500m) before landing in the Sea of Japan, the South Korean, Japanese and United States militaries have said.

"The missile reached an altitude higher than 1,000 kilometers during its flight, raising the possibility that it was launched at a steep "lofted" trajectory".

The nature of the projectile is not immediately clear, a South Korean military official said, though local media reports that it appears to be a ballistic missile.

David Wright, co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that the flight time, if true, would mean the missile has a "considerably longer range" than any of the missiles now in the North's arsenal.

The missile flew some 700 kilometers for half an hour and dropped in the East Sea.

The North test-fired a Pukguksong-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), also known as the KN-15, from the same site on February 12. That's a little less than the distance between North Korea and the U.S. Pacific island of Guam.

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Reaching the U.S. West Coast would require a missile with a range of more than 8,000 km.

The North attempted but failed to test-launch ballistic missiles four consecutive times in the past two months but has conducted a variety of missile testing since the beginning of previous year at an unprecedented pace.

If confirmed the launch would be the first in two weeks since the last attempt ended in a failure just minutes into flight. The latest "provocation" should serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against the North, it said.

He called it a "grave challenge" to the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and the worldwide community, presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan told reporters.

"Australia regards this as a reckless and provocative action that leads to instability both regional and globally and has condemned clearly in the past North Korea for this sort of behaviour and we do so again", Defence Minister Marise Payne told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

While North Korea regularly tests shorter-range missiles, it is also working to master the technology needed to field nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States mainland.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that the launch was "absolutely unacceptable" and that Japan will respond resolutely. But she said more analysis was needed. Japan's Kyodo News said the missile may be capable of covering a range as far as 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) if launched at a normal trajectory, citing unidentified sources.

"It was an unidentified projectile that was sacked early this morning", he said.

North Korea has recently increased its missile test launches amid mounting tensions in the region and with the USA. And it says South Korea and Japan have been watching this situation closely with the US. The USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft supercarrier, is also engaging with South Korean navy ships in waters off the Korean Peninsula, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry.

"Even if dialogue is possible, (we) should show (to North Korea) that it's possible only in case of North Korea changing its attitude", Moon said during a session of the National Security Council at the presidential compound Cheong Wa Dae.

Choi did not elaborate on what the North's conditions are, but her comments raise the possibility of North Korea and the USA returning to negotiations for the first time since 2008, when six-nation talks over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program fell apart.

A top diplomat said that Pyongyang would be willing to meet with the Trump administration for negotiations "if the conditions are set". She did not elaborate.

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