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North Korea's new missile 'could hit Alaska'

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Pyongyang says it successfully test-launched an ICBM that reached an altitude of 2,802km

SEOUL: North Korea said yesterday it successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time, which flew a trajectory that experts said could allow a weapon to hit the US state of Alaska.

The launch came days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations were due to discuss steps to rein in North Korea's weapons programme, which it has pursued in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions.

The launch, which North Korea said was ordered and supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, sent the rocket 933km, reaching an altitude of 2,802km over a flight time of 39 minutes.

North Korea has said it wants to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead capable of striking the US mainland.

It would need an ICBM with a range of 8,000km or more, a warhead small enough to be mounted on it and technology to ensure its stable re-entry into the atmosphere.

Some analysts said the flight details suggested the missile had a range of more than 8,000km, underscoring major advances in its programme. Others did not believe its range was so far.

Mr David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Programme at the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said the assessments of yesterday's launch suggested the missile was launched on a "very highly lofted" trajectory of more than 2,800km. That missile could reach a maximum range of 6,700km on a standard trajectory, he said in a blog post.

"That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska," he said.

Officials from South Korea, Japan and the US said the missile landed in the sea in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone after being launched on a high trajectory from north-west of the North's capital, Pyongyang.

North Korea's new missile 'could hit Alaska'


"The test launch was conducted at the sharpest angle possible and did not have any negative effect on neighbouring countries," North Korea's state media said in a statement.

South Korean President Moon Jae In, who convened a national security council meeting, earlier said the missile was believed to be an intermediate-range type, but the military was looking into the possibility it was an ICBM. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile flew about 930km.

US President Donald Trump tweeted in an apparent reference to Mr Kim: "North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?

"Hard to believe South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called for calm and restraint, and reiterated China's opposition to North Korea's violation of UN resolutions on missile tests.

Responding to Mr Trump's tweet, Mr Geng said China had been working hard to resolve the North Korea issue. - REUTERS

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