Image Attribute: Pukguksong-2 TEL based Missile Launch / Source: KCNA
The Pukguksong-2, a medium long-range ballistic missile claimed to be a new type of strategic weapon capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, was test-fired on Sunday under the supervision of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, KCNA.
KCNA said the missile was fired at a high angle in consideration of the safety of neighboring countries. A South Korean military source said on Sunday the missile reached an altitude of 550 km (340 miles).
It flew a distance of about 500 km, landing off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, towards Japan.
The missile was propelled by a solid-fuel engine and was an upgraded, extended-range version of its submarine-launched ballistic missile that was tested successfully last August, according to KCNA.
South Korea's military said on Monday the missile had been launched using a "cold-eject" system, whereby it is initially lifted by compressed gas before flying under the power of its rocket, a system used for submarine-launched missiles.
Before Sunday, the North's two most recent missile tests had taken place in October 2016. Both were of intermediate-range Musudan missiles and both failed, according to U.S. and South Korean officials.
The reports come as Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and just days before the North is to mark the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un’s late father, Kim Jong Il.
Later Abe made a joint statement with Trump.
“North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable. North Korea must fully comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” Abe said, through a translator.
The report also said that Kim Jong-un "expressed great satisfaction" over the test launch, which it said, "adds to the tremendous might of the country".
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff told CNN the missile appeared to be a modified intermediate-range Musudan level missile. Earlier analysis had guessed it to be a shorter-range Rodong.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement on Sunday condemning the launch and saying North Korea "must refrain from further provocations, halt all launches using ballistic missile technology and abandon once and for all its ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, as required by the UN Security Council."
However, the analysts are divided, over how close the North Korea is to having a reliable long-range rocket that could be coupled with a nuclear warhead capable of striking U.S. targets.
Based on reporting by CNN, Reuters, and KCNA