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Japan, S. Korean defense ministers vow to work together on N. Korea

Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this photo.

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 USA mainland.

More missile tests were forewarned "until the USA and its vassal forces make a proper choice with reason".

There's also a political victory for North Korea.

Amid condemnation in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington, a jubilant North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised more nuclear and missile tests and warned that his country's weapons could strike the United States mainland and Pacific holdings. But Tong Zhao, an analyst with the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, said Sunday's test may give Pyongyang "a regional nuclear deterrence" option, meaning it might no longer need to pursue a weapon to reach as far as the U.S. mainland.

British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft also called the test a threat to global peace and security and said "the United Kingdom favors tougher sanctions".

On Sunday, the North successfully test-fired a new intermediate-range ballistic missile.

The test firing, against a backdrop of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, came four days after South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, took office.

That signalled a new phase in applying sanctions that curb exports of coal from North Korea, impose severe restrictions on banking and ban sales of luxury goods and equipment that could be of use to the military. It said the newly developed Hwasong-12 flew as high as 2,111 kilometres (1,310 miles) before landing in a targeted area in the ocean about 787 kilometres (490 miles) from the launch site. He said Moon told officials that dialogue would be possible only if "North Korea changes its attitude".

Experts said Sunday's launch would have had a range of at least 4,000 kilometers if fired at a standard trajectory.

"This is a very uncomfortable development for the United States", said Lee Illwoo, a Seoul-based commentator on military issues.

On the respected 38 North website, aerospace engineering specialist John Schilling said it appeared to demonstrate an intermediate-range ballistic missile that could "reliably strike the USA base at Guam" in the Pacific, 3,400 kilometres away. That would put it in reach of the USA territory of Guam. But the country has never carried out test flights of those rockets' military versions. It also claims to have perfected the warhead's homing and detonation systems under hard re-entry circumstances.

The press statement from the U.N.'s most powerful body said its 15 members agreed to "take further significant measures including sanctions, in line with the council's previously expressed determination".

The country's official Korean Central News Agency says the missile fired Sunday Korea time was a Hwasong-12 "capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead". "The speed at which a missile comes through the atmosphere creates an enormous amount of air pressure and heat".

Another important point: One test, even a successful one, does not completely prove a missile's capabilities.

Pyongyang described it as a successful launch of the solid-fuel "Polar Star Two" missile.



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