Korea says test shows North is making 'meaningful progress' in weapons program

US President Donald Trump has criticised North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, accusing him of "acting very, very badly".

Trump, who traveled to his Mar-a-Lago resort this weekend, said he discussed North Korea's missile launches during weekend meetings.

State-run North Korean media reported that the country's despotic leader had hailed the test as "a new birth" of its rocket industry.

Experts say the VX nerve agent used to kill Kim was nearly certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory, and North Korea is widely believed to possess large quantities of chemical weapons.

Speaking in Seoul last week, Tillerson said that military action against North Korea was "on the table", indicating a break with the Obama administration's dissuasion strategy based on sanctions.

The KCNA report said Kim called the test "a great event of historic significance" for the country's indigenous rocket industry.

A geostationary satellite must be propelled to an altitude of 36,000 kilometres (22,500 miles) and North Korea is showing off its progress in developing a long-range inter-continental ballistic missile that can reach the USA east coast, Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies said.

"It appears that North Korea has worked out much of its development of the first-stage rocket booster", he said.

Kim said North Korea had not yet mastered the re-entry technology needed for an ICBM, so still had work to do before it was able to hit the United States.

The North has conducted two nuclear tests and test-fired more than two dozen missiles since previous year.

Trump's remarks came as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrapped up his Asia tour consisting of stops in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing. North Korea is one of just four United Nations members not party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans its use.

In a briefing with reporters, the national police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, would not give further details on the identity and whereabouts of the new suspects in the case, but said that an "important person" was among those being pursued.

On Thursday, police said Interpol issued a "red notice", the closest to an worldwide arrest warrant, for four North Koreans wanted in connection with the murder.

Pyongyang has been bristling over ongoing military drills involving American and South Korean troops along with Seoul's plan to deploy a USA anti-missile system, THAAD. "China has done little to help!"

Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA said the United States has reached new "despicable heights", although the suggestion North Korea may be behind bank breaches came from private USA firm Symantec.

North Korea fired rockets in 2012 and in 2016 to put objects into space.

"No matter what happens, we have to stay committed to diplomatic means as a way to seek peaceful settlement", Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

  • Zachary Reyes