South Korea conducts missile test with warning to North Korea

"North Korea would be able to test a nuclear weapon nearly whenever they make a political decision to do so", Korea expert Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies told Fox News. The Hyunmoo 2 is a critical component of the "kill chain" (a system created to detect a North Korean nuclear weapon or missile attack in advance and carry out a preliminary strike on the launch site), and with a range of 800km the missile could hit any point in North Korean territory.

The North has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of a year ago in its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States - something Trump has vowed "won't happen".

USA officials, speaking anonymously to news agencies, said the engine could potentially be fitted to an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). "It's reassuring to be briefed on our missile capability and to see for myself that South Koreans don't need to worry", Moon said immediately after the successful test launch.

He quoted Moon as saying he supported dialogue, however, "dialogue is only possible when we have a strong military and engagement policies are only possible when we have the security capability to dominate North Korea".

North Korea's last rocket engine test came in March and was apparently timed to coincide with the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Beijing, where he warned that regional tensions had reached a "dangerous level".

Moon said he wished for World Taekwondo and the ITF "can become one" through the parallel demonstrations.

The US has also ramped up its military presence in the region, conducting drills with Japan as well as South Korea, and is installing a controversial missile defence system in Seoul, known as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system (Thaad).

However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman questioned such calls. "If a North Korean delegation takes part in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, I believe it will greatly contribute to realizing the Olympic values of friendship and peace", President Moon said, according to a script of his remarks released by the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.

"We've said many times that China is making unremitting efforts to resolve the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, and plays an active and constructive role", he said.

However, experts say Pyongyang could still be years away from have a reliable ICBM capability.

The continental United States is around 9,000km from North Korea.

Sources also say there has been a build up of vehicles and personnel at North Korea's nuclear testing site.

  • Leroy Wright