Vandenberg to launch first test of ICBM intercept on Tuesday

Pyongyang first tested the new weapon system in April previous year when some defects had been discovered, but Kim said the latest test verified that all glitches had been "perfectly overcome", KCNA said. It was the first approval for contact with North Korea granted to a private South Korean group since the North's fourth nuclear test in January 2016.

An interceptor is to be launched from an underground silo at Vandenberg and soar toward the target, which will be fired from a test range on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.

The American interceptor has a spotty track record, succeeding in nine of 17 attempts against missiles of less-then-intercontinental range since 1999. The latest test in June 2014 was a success, but it came after three consecutive failures.

North Korea is now the focus of USA efforts because its leader, Kim Jong Un, has vowed to field a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching American territory.

The leaders also insisted that Pyongyang "must immediately and fully comply with all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) and abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner". The target is not a mock-up of an actual North Korean ICBM.

The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency is responsible for developing and testing the system.

"Testing against an ICBM-type threat is the next step in that process".

"They also agreed to further strengthen the alliance between the United States and Japan, to further each country's capability to deter and defend against threats from North Korea", the statement said.

"Some defects in the weapon system, discovered past year, were perfectly overcome to stand the test", KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

The system will comprise 44 interceptors by the end of the year, so it could thwart an attack from a rogue state or a volley of rockets.

U.S. military personnel plan to launch a custom-made missile from the Marshall Islands and aim to shoot it down in space by firing an interceptor missile from a base in California, reports Fox News.

President Donald Trump has called Kim a "madman with nuclear weapons".

  • Leroy Wright