North Korea accuses Seoul of violating airspace with unmanned vehicle

The tests are created to mimic the effects of a North Korean nuke strike on the U.S. and put into practice Trump's extensive missile defence network.

However, the test comes in the wake of two successful missile launches from North Korea, one of which flew more than 1,200 miles into space before landing just 60 miles from Russian Federation.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un salutes during a visit to the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces on the occasion of the new year, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 10, 2016.

According to the Agency's missile defense experts launch the interceptor missile from an underground silo Vandenberg AFB, California, on the mock ICBM launched from a test site Ronald Reagan in the Marshall Islands.

Pentagon officials believe recent technological advances, coupled with Kim Jong-un's increasingly inflammatory rhetoric, suggest the threat from North Korea is escalating.

In its 2018 budget presented this week, the Pentagon proposed spending $7.9 billion on missile defense, including $1.5 billion for the ground-based midcourse defense program. If all goes as planned, the "kill vehicle" will slam into the ICBM-like target's mock warhead high over the Pacific Ocean.

Christopher Johnson, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, told the AP news agency: "The basic defensive idea is to fire a rocket into space upon warning of a hostile missile launch".

While the test wasn't scheduled with the expectation of an imminent North Korean missile threat, the military will closely watch whether it shows progress toward the stated goal of being able to reliably shoot down a small number of ICBMs targeting the US.

The diplomat said the move reflects Beijing's increasing awareness of the need to pressure North Korea into halting its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. There now are 32 interceptors in silos at Fort Greely in Alaska and four at Vandenberg, north of Los Angeles.

The measure is being announced only weeks after the presidential election of Moon Jae-in, a progressive politician who had pledged to take a more conciliatory approach to North Korea.

"They do recognize that it's going to be pretty hard to have a dialogue while the North Koreans are shooting off missiles", she said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump spent most of an hour-long meeting on Friday discussing tensions on the Korean peninsula.

  • Leroy Wright