The DPRK announced that it had tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, though that claim could not be immediately verified. The missile flew about 930 kilometers (580 miles) and fell into the Sea of Japan. But the declaration conflicted with South Korean and U.S. assessments earlier.
The U.S. Defense Department said U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked the launch of a land-based, intermediate range ballistic missile from North Korea’s Panghyon Airfield. The missile was tracked for 37 minutes and landed in the Sea of Japan.
A test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, if confirmed, would be a major step forward in developing a nuclear-armed missile that could reach the United States.
Cho Han Gyu, director of operations at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a televised briefing that the missile demonstrated an improved range over an intermediate-range missile that North Korea tested on May 14.
China said it opposes DPRK missile launches that violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Tuesday local time that his country was collecting information about the DPRK’s latest launch, conducted earlier in the day.
Geng said that China urges “the DPRK side to stop taking actions that violate Security Council resolutions and to create the necessary conditions for the resumption of talks.”
He also defended China’s efforts to try to resolve the DPRK nuclear issue. He said that China’s role is indispensable, and that its contribution in that regard is recognized
President Donald Trump criticized DPRK leader Kim Jong Un after that country’s latest missile launch, asking, “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”
Trump wrote on Twitter late Monday that it’s “Hard to believe that South Korea … and Japan will put up with this much longer.”
And he urged China, to “put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
The missile launch comes as the Trump administration has displayed increasing frustration with China. Last week, the U.S. blacklisted a small Chinese bank over its business ties with the DPRK.
The White House said Trump brought up the DPRK missile program during a phone call Sunday with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Chinese media reported that Xi warned Trump that “some negative factors” are hurting U.S.-China relations.
Story by the Associated Press