North Korea says new missile ready for mass production

The country has also conducted a slew of rocket launches as it continues to advance its arsenal of ballistic weapons, which also include midrange solid-fuel missiles that could be fired from land mobile launchers or submarines.

So far, almost all the North's missiles have been liquid-fuelled, which have to be time-consumingly filled with propellant before launch. It reached an altitude of 560 kilometers (347 miles), the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, citing office rules.

The test provided more "meaningful data" regarding North Korea's missile program, according to South Korea's military.

However, North Korea claimed that the latest launch verified the reliability and accuracy of the solid-fuel engine's operation and stage separation and the late-stage guidance of the nuclear warhead, which was recorded by a device mounted on the warhead, according to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The North Korean national news agency announced the Supreme Leader personally witnessed the Sunday's nuclear test and its main goal is to verify the condition of the Pukguksong-2 missile's engine.

US President Donald Trump has warned that a "major, major conflict" with North Korea is possible if Pyongyang won't change its ways.

Sunday's test marked North Korea's eleventh missile test this year and the second test in the past week.

North Korea has significantly speeded up its missile tests over the past year or so and appears to be making tangible progress toward developing an arsenal that poses a threat not only to South Korea and Japan - which together host about 80,000 USA troops - but also toward an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland United States.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile landed outside Japan's exclusive economic zone and no damage to ships or airplanes was reported. "Hopefully, they will get the message that the pathway of continuing their nuclear arms program is not a pathway to security, or, certainly, prosperity". The ongoing testing is disappointing.

The Council is now scheduled to meet behind closed doors on Tuesday - a meeting requested by the US, South Korea and Japan.

South Korea held a National Security Council meeting after the launch, and its Foreign Ministry said the launch "throws cold water" on efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula.

The UN Security Council has strongly condemned North Korea's latest missile test and vowed to push all countries to tighten sanctions against Pyongyang.

"We absolutely can not tolerate the missile launch on May 21 and repeated provocative remarks and actions by North Korea", Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday.

Abe told reporters he wanted to raise the issue of North Korean missile launches at the Group of Seven leaders' summit in Italy this month.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the latest test was "a snub and a challenge to worldwide efforts for a peaceful resolution". And each successful rocket launch is seen as improving or expanding the range and capabilities of its missile arsenal.

KCNA quoted Kim as saying the Pukguksong-2 met all the required technical specifications and should now be mass-produced and deployed to the Korean People's Army strategic battle unit.

Following the May 16 Security Council meeting, North Korean Deputy U.N. Ambassador Kim In Ryong called a news conference to protest Security Council sanctions and vowed to continue developing its weapons programs unless the US changes its policy toward the North.

The North also published an image shot from space with a camera installed on the warhead of the Pukguksong-2.

  • Leroy Wright