Anger as North Korean missile lands in sea 100km from Russia
North Korea, defying calls to rein in its weapons programme, fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia yesterday, days after a new leader came to power in South Korea pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.
The US military's Pacific Command said it was assessing the type of missile that was fired but it was "not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile". The US threat assessment has not changed from a national security standpoint, a US official said.
Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada said the missile could be a new type. It flew for 30 minutes before dropping into the sea between North Korea's east coast and Japan. North Korea has consistently test-fired missiles in that direction.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the missile landed 97km south of Russia's Vladivostok region.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called the launch a message by Pyongyang to South Korea after the election of President Moon Jae-in, who took office on Wednesday.
"You first have to get into Kim Jong-un's head - which is, he's in a state of paranoia, he's incredibly concerned about anything and everything around him," Ms Haley told ABC's 'This Week' programme, referring to North Korea's leader.
Ms Haley added that the United States will "continue to tighten the screws", referring to sanctions and working with the international community to put pressure on Pyongyang.
The missile flew 700km and reached an altitude of more than 2km, according to officials in South Korea and Japan, further and higher than an intermediate-range missile North Korea successfully tested in February from the same region of Kusong, north-west of its capital, Pyongyang. An intercontinental ballistic missile is considered to have a range of more than 6,000km.
North Korea is widely believed to be developing an intercontinental missile tipped with a nuclear weapon that is capable of reaching the US.
Speaking in Beijing, Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, told reporters Mr Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping had discussed the situation on the Korean peninsula, including the latest missile launch, and expressed "mutual concerns" about growing tensions.
Mr Putin is in Beijing for a conference on a plan for a new Silk Road. Delegations from the United States, South Korea and North Korea are also there.
The launch, at 5.27am Seoul time, came two weeks after North Korea fired a missile that disintegrated minutes into flight, marking its fourth consecutive failure since March.
South Korea's new president held his first National Security Council in response to the launch, which he called a "clear violation" of UN Security Council resolutions, his office said. "The president said while South Korea remains open to the possibility of dialogue with North Korea, it is only possible when the North shows a change in attitude," Yoon Young-chan, Mr Moon's press secretary, told a briefing.
Mr Moon won Tuesday's election on a platform of a moderate approach to North Korea and has said he would be willing to go to Pyongyang under the right circumstances.