North Korea calls latest solid-fuel missile test successful

The rocket was sacked from an area near the North Korean county of Pukchang, in South Phyongan Province, and flew eastward about 500 kilometers (310 miles), South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday", U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it was too early to know whether diplomatic and economic pressures being exerted on the North Korean government are having an impact in the wake of the latest missile test.

The test-fire of Pukguksong-2 was aimed to finally verify all the technical indexes of the weapon system and thoroughly examine its adaptability under various battle conditions, before its deployment at military units for action.

The launch comes a week after the North successfully tested a new midrange missile that experts say may one day be capable of reaching Alaska or Hawaii.

North Korea's latest launch came hours after Moon named his new foreign minister nominee and top advisers for security and foreign policy.

On Saturday, it said it had developed the capability to strike the US mainland, although Western missile experts say the claim is exaggerated.

Tokyo has already condemned the launch, describing it as an "intolerable" move clearly violating UN Security Council resolutions.

It added that the projectile is presumably a ballistic rocket.

North Korea has been stepping up its provocative test-launches in recent months, attempting to develop a missile with the range and payload capacity to reach the United States with a nuclear warhead.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday that Seoul and Washington believe Sunday's test provided North Korea with unspecified "meaningful data" on its push to improve the credibility of missile technology.

The provocations came despite the USA top diplomat's latest assurance that the US has no intention to seek a regime change in North Korea.

The Pukguksong-2 ( -2) is considered a modification of the original Pukguksong-1 ( -1), which is a submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM.

Experts said the North's reckless provocations seem to be aimed at seeking dialogue with the US on equal footing by strengthening its nuclear capabilities.

North Korea has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programs, even from China, its lone major ally, saying the weapons are needed for legitimate self-defense.

North Korea's continued missile launches are likely to test Moon, who earlier vowed to seek a dual approach to the North's denuclearization and inter-Korean dialogue.

  • Carolyn Briggs