North Korea missile programme progressing faster than expected, says South

South Korea's defense minister claimed Tuesday that the North's missile defense program was advancing much faster than originally believed and that the use of the USA -developed and installed THAAD anti-missile system had been used for the first time to detect the authoritarian regime's latest test, Reuters reported.

In a unanimous statement backed by China, the council yesterday stressed the importance of North Korea immediately showing honest commitment to denuclearization through concrete action.

Council diplomats say the United States and China, the North's closest ally, have been working on a new sanctions resolution.

The statement also condemned an earlier ballistic missile launch by Pyongyang on April 28 - following that launch, Washington began talks with China on possible new United Nations sanctions.

The US and Japan have called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

The US Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, confirmed the rocket launch but said the unidentified projectile did not appear to be large enough to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, saying only that the launch did not pose a threat to North America.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday the North's latest missile test was risky, but warned against attempts to "intimidate" Pyongyang. The missile called Hwasong-12 was sacked and flew at 787 kilometers (489 miles). Despite that, President Trump already expressed his intent to keep the relationship between the US and North Korea "diplomatic" to prevent the latter from using nuclear missiles.

In his first comments since a North Korean missile plunged into the sea off the Russian coast on Sunday, President Vladimir Putin condemned Pyongyang's nuclear program as "harmful and risky", but he added that the worldwide community should respond with talks, not threats.

South Korea's Defense Ministry said more analysis was needed to verify the North's claim on the rocket's technological features.

The missile, launched at a steep angle, reached an altitude of 2000km and travelled about 700km, landing in the sea west of Japan.

North Korea says the missile can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.

North Korea said on Monday it was a test of the abilities of a "newly developed ballistic rocket". For Pyongyang, this would mean a guarantee that the Kim regime survives and that its nuclear program can continue.

Even before North Korea gave its account of what happened, the launch caught the eye of experts.

Some analysts believe the missile, if proven in further tests, could reach Alaska and Hawaii if fired on a normal, instead of a lofted, trajectory.

Putin said he was briefed by his defense minister after North Korea's latest missile test.

Leader Kim Jong-un personally oversaw the test on Sunday, the official Korea Central News Agency said, and pictures by state media showed him gazing at the missile in a hangar before the launch.

A major concern, however, is that North Korea is attempting to produce an ICBM carrying a nuclear warhead that would threaten not merely Guam, but the mainland United States.

  • Zachary Reyes