UN chief condemns NKorea missile test

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers remarks at a Security Council meeting in April

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers remarks at a Security Council meeting in April

North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness - Pyongyang has threatened for decades to reduce Seoul to a "sea of fire", for instance - but Monday's claim, if confirmed, would mark another big advance toward the North's goal of fielding a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US mainland.

Francois Delattre told reporters Monday that France favors "a strong, swift and firm reaction of the council" to North Korea's test on Sunday of a new longer-range ballistic missile, which he called "a serious threat to peace and security both in the region and the world".

They've failed to stop the North's progress, which includes five nuclear test explosions since 2006. Pyongyang's aggressive push to boost its weapons program also makes it one of the Trump administration's most urgent foreign policy worries, though Washington has struggled to settle on a policy. It launched a total of 51 ballistic missiles since Kim Jong-un came to power in late 2011.

There are doubts whether Pyongyang can miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it onto a missile nose cone, and no proof it has mastered the re-entry technology needed to ensure it survives returning into Earth's atmosphere.

But Japanese officials said the missile flew for about 30 minutes, travelling about 800km and reaching an altitude of 2,000km - a flight pattern that could indicate a new missile type.

In recent years, North Korea successfully put satellites into orbit twice aboard long-range rockets in what the United Nations called a disguised test of long-range missile technology.

Russian President Putin has condemned North Korea's latest missile launch as "dangerous" but warned against "intimidating" Pyongyang.

North Korea is not thought to be able yet to make a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile, though some outside analysts think it can arm shorter-range missiles with warheads.

"More importantly", he added, it "may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)". "North Korea maintains conditions to carry out a nuclear test in Punggye-ri on a standing basis".

The US says its "strategic patience" with North Korea is over, even hinting at a pre-emptive strike.

"The president said we are leaving open the possibility of dialogue with North Korea, but we should sternly deal with a provocation to prevent North Korea from miscalculating".

Last week the South elected a new president, Moon Jae-In, who advocates reconciliation with Pyongyang and said at his inauguration that he was willing "in the right circumstances" to visit the North to ease tensions.

Will China fully enforce global sanctions on North Korea and back tough new penalties?

"As South Korea's diplomatic situation matures, North Korea should also show a more mature attitude, not a childish one, and contribute to (establishing a better) diplomatic relationship", said Jin Hyo-seon, 33, a painter.

"The test-firing of ICBMs will occur at any time and place, at the will of North Korea's highest leadership", North Korea's ambassador to China, Ji Jae Ryong, told reporters in Beijing on Monday, a day before the UN Security Council meets in NY to discuss the test.

"This is a very uncomfortable development for the United States", said Lee Illwoo, a Seoul-based commentator on military issues. The last set of sanctions, imposed in March, capped China's imports of North Korean coal, a key cash earner for North Korea.

Tokyo clocked the missile as traveling about 800 kilometers (500 miles) and reaching a height of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) during its half-hour flight. The Missile Defense Agency defines medium-range missiles as having a range of between 600 and 1,800 miles.

Leader Kim Jong-un personally oversaw the test on Sunday, the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said, and pictures by state media showed him gazing at the missile in a hangar before the launch.

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