North Korea vows missile tests 'any time, any place'

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday observed the test launch of a new ballistic missile that can carry a large nuclear warhead and has the USA mainland within striking range, state media claimed Monday. In all, six sanction resolutions have been imposed on North Korea, since it carried out its first nuclear test in 2006.

North Korea's long-term bid to develop a credible nuclear attack threat to the U.S. mainland saw it launch Sunday what appeared to be its longest-range missile yet.

"The test-fire proved to the full all the technical specifications of the rocket", KCNA said.

The test "represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile", John Schilling, an aerospace expert, said in an analysis on the US-based 38 North website.

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

Japanese officials said Sunday the missile flew for half an hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan. That would require a flight of 8,000 km (4,800 miles) or more and technology to ensure a warhead's stable re-entry into the atmosphere.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry welcomed the latest UNSC statement as a "swift" and "resolute" response to the North's provocations, saying that it would prepare to discuss countermeasures at the upcoming emergency session of the council.

"The Secretary-General condemns the launch of another ballistic missile by the country, the Spokesman said in a statement".

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Council diplomats said the language was significant because China, North Korea's strongest ally, signed on.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the test was unsafe, but warned against attempts to "intimidate" Pyongyang.

South Korea's military said it could not yet verify the North's claims.

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. ADDS DETAIL ABOUT MISSILE - In this April 15, 2017, file photo, an unidentified missile that analysts believe could be the North Korean Hwasong-12 is paraded across Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.

"They're clearly getting some success with these solid fuel rockets and that's important because then it kind of takes away the option of maybe shooting them before they take off - that is, directing some kind of counter-missile fire when it's still on the ground", Hill said of the type of missile launched.

"This is an advanced missile if their claims are true".

KCNA said Kim accused the United States of "browbeating" countries that "have no nukes", warning Washington not to misjudge the reality that its mainland is in the North's "sighting range for the strike".

The council also plans to convene an emergency session Tuesday to discuss the North Korea issue at the request of the U.S. and Japan.

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