Pyongyang confirms that it has launched another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un saying the whole US mainland is now within the range of the newly-tested guided missile.
North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Saturday that what was launched the previous day had been an updated version of the Hwasong-14 ICBM, which flew as far as 998 kilometers for some 47 minutes at a maximum altitude of 3,724.9 kilometers.
It added that the North’s leader had overseen the second ICBM test, quoting Kim as saying that the long-range missile demonstrated the country's surprise attack capability and sent a "serious warning" to the United States.
US authorities had earlier confirmed that the missile was an ICBM but downplayed claims that it could reach the US mainland.
However, the Russian Defense Ministry, in a statement, cast doubt on the declared nature of the missile, saying its characteristics appeared to be "those of a medium-range ballistic missile."
According to the statement, the missile reached an altitude of 681 kilometers (420 miles) and flew for 732 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan.
North Korea first tested an ICBM on July 4, with an estimated range of 5,500 kilometers and capable of hitting Alaska.
The Friday test-launch drew strong condemnation from North Korea’s regional adversaries, including Japan and South Korea, and the United States, which has just commenced a live-fire military exercise, using surface-to-surface missiles, with South Korea in response to the missile launch.
The European Union also blasted the North for the missile test, saying the country posed “a serious threat to international peace and security.”
The developments came some 10 months after Pyongyang carried out its fifth nuclear test. The North’s nuclear and missile programs have drawn harsh sanctions from the United Nations and the West since 2006.
North Korea regards the US as its main enemy. The US has adopted a war-like posture vis-à-vis Pyongyang and has permanent military presence in the region.
North Korea sees its missile and nuclear capabilities as a strong deterrent against potential US aggression.