In testing missile, N. Korea challenges South's new leader

North Korea is boasting of a successful weekend launch of a new type of "medium long-range" ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead. Outsiders also saw a significant technological jump, with the test-fire apparently flying higher and for a longer time period than any other such previous missile.

Pyongyang carried out two atomic tests past year, and has accelerated its missile launch programme, despite tough United Nations sanctions aimed at denying leader Kim Jong-Un the hard currency needed to fund his weapons ambitions.

North Korea claims the missile was a new model.

Some experts, including officials in Tokyo, estimate that Sunday's launch successfully tested a new type of missile, potentially the longest in North Korea's arsenal.

This latest North Korea test now increases the pressure on Trump to toughen the conciliatory course he's taken with China over Pyongyang, said Klingner, a former deputy division chief for Korea at the Central Intelligence Agency.

Pyongyang said the missile it launched could carry a nuclear warhead and warned that the U.S. mainland is now within "sighting range for a strike".

Kim witnessed the test and "hugged officials in the field of rocket research, saying that they worked hard to achieve a great thing", according to KCNA. The news agency said it flew to an altitude of 2111.5km and covered 787km before coming down in the Sea of Japan.

"If Russia can be instrumental in resolving a key worldwide dispute like North Korea, they will want to parry that into something else, to use it as a bargaining chip", he said. Spokesperson Moon Sang Gyun said it's still unlikely that North Korea has re-entry technology, which would return a warhead safely back into the atmosphere.

Japanese officials said Sunday that the missile flew for half an hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan.

The country has engaged in several military shows of strength in recent weeks including missile tests.

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. "Just like our previous actions to strengthen our nuclear capabilities, our ICBM test was also in response to the nuclear dangers and threats posed by the USA and its followers as they implement their policies", Ji said.

On the respected 38 North website, aerospace engineering specialist John Schilling said it appeared to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile that could "reliably strike the U.S. base at Guam" in the Pacific, 3,400 kilometres away.

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Sunday's test came less than a week after South Korea elected a new president, Moon Jae-In, who advocates reconciliation with Pyongyang and had expressed a willingness to visit the North to ease tensions. "Given speculation over the past months about the possibility of military action by the Trump administration to prevent Pyongyang from acquiring such a weapons, the possible testing of ICBM subsystems in this low-key manner may be a North Korean hedge against the possibility of such action", the group said in a report.

Moon, South Korea's first liberal leader in almost a decade, said as he took his oath of office last week that he'd be willing to visit North Korea if the circumstances were right.

Earlier in the day, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement, backed by China, condemning the North for its latest missile firing, which came less than a week after South Korea embraced its new liberal president seeking inter-Korean dialogue.

"There's a lot of sanctions left that we can start to do, whether it's with oil, whether it's with energy, whether it's with their maritime ships, exports", US Ambassador Nikki Haley told ABC television's "This Week".

The Security Council has adopted six increasingly tougher sanctions resolutions against North Korea.

Dictator Kim Jong Un personally oversaw the launch and, according to state media, warned that USA territories were within reach and that the North was capable of a retaliatory strike.

"Having a missile test is not the way to sit down with the president, because he's absolutely not going to do it", Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told "This Week".

The U.S. Pacific Command said Sunday's test flight "is not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile".

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

North Korea has tested dozens of banned missiles in the a year ago, though this was the first one deemed by US officials to have been a success, after a string of recent failures.

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

Speaking Monday in Tokyo, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga noted that along with the US and South Korea, Japan was going to push this week at the United Nations for greater unity, including efforts to extend "diplomatic cooperation with China and Russian Federation and other countries that have a strong influence" over the North.

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