North Korea's Missile Program Is Progressing Faster Than Expected: South Korea

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South Korea's defence minister said in Parliament on Tuesday (May 16) that North Korea's most recent missile launch should be considered a success if Pyongyang was aiming for the development of an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM).

The US and Japan have called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday as North Korea's repeated missile tests this year have generated global alarm.

Following that launch, Washington began talks with North Korean ally China on possible new United Nations sanctions.

US experts said Sunday's launch was likely a mobile, two-stage, liquid-fueled missile that North Korea displayed in a huge April 15 military parade. But leader Kim Jong Un has promised a sixth nuclear test, warning that his country's weapons could strike the United States mainland.

Sunday's test missile flew 787 kilometers (489 miles) across North Korea and into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, according to state media, and it appeared to have struck near the eastern coast of Russian Federation.

At the U.N., Francois Delattre, France's ambassador, said Security Council members are preparing to impose new sanctions and strengthen enforcement of existing ones. He said Sunday's launch - the seventh such firing by North Korea this year - may have been of a new mobile, two-stage liquid-fueled missile North Korea displayed in a huge April 15 military parade.

"There is a fundamental understanding North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations pose a great threat to the peace and stability of the worldwide community", Lee said.

In all, six sets of sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.

The nose cone resembles that of the KN-08 ICBM the North is believed to be developing, and the lofted trajectory tests re-entry by putting the missile through extra stress, said Joshua Pollack of the US -based Non-proliferation Review.

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Significant numbers of US soldiers in South Korea and Japan are already within North Korea's reach.

The test came just days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has called for closer engagement with the North, was inaugurated in Seoul.

"As South Korea's diplomatic situation matures, North Korea should also show a more mature attitude, not a childish one, and contribute to (establishing a better) diplomatic relationship", said Jin Hyo-seon, 33, a painter.

The official North Korean news agency KCNA said the launch aimed at showing the technical capability to carry a "large scale heavy nuclear warhead".

The missile flew 787 kilometres on a trajectory reaching an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometres, the North's KCNA news agency said. "What we're going to do is continue to tighten the screws".

"More importantly", he added, it "may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)".

But he slammed the latest missile test as a "reckless provocation" and said dialogue would be possible "only if the North changes its attitude".

There are doubts whether Pyongyang can miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it into a missile nose cone, and no evidence it has mastered the re-entry technology needed to ensure it survives returning into Earth's atmosphere.

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