South Korea says North's rocket can reach Washington


But South Korea said it expected Pyongyang to now pause its provocative missile testing programme, after the success of its new Hwasong-15 missile that can fly far enough to hit the US mainland.

North Korea said the missile on Wednesday reached an apogee of 4,475 kilometres (2,780 miles) and flew 950 kilometres (600 miles), splashing down close to Japan after being launched from a site near Pyongyang on a high trajectory to avoid other countries; that flight data was similar to what was announced by South Korea's military.

The blockade became a center of inquiry after Defense Minister Song Young-moo said Seoul would be compelled to take part in sanctions along with the United States, should Washington call for a blockade, The Korea Times reported.

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According to an analysis by South Korea's military, Yeo told lawmakers at a parliamentary session that the first-stage engine of the Hwasong-15 missile is a clustering of two engines from Hwasong-14 missiles, which are also ICBMs that were test-launched in July this year.

North Korea's latest missile test puts Washington within range, but Pyongyang still needs to prove it has mastered critical missile technology, such as re-entry, terminal stage guidance and warhead activation, South Korea said on Friday, APA reports quoting Reuters. President Moon's vision of a "Peace Olympics" will continue to urge North Korea to participate in PyeongChang, although it is unlikely the Games could spur diplomatic talks, Lee said.

During their hour-long phone call on Thursday, Moon said he has reservations about North Korea's claims of a complete mastery of intercontinental ballistic missile technology.

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Meanwhile, Seoul's Unification Ministry played down Wednesday's provocation by the North. While Moon was primarily raising doubts about the ICBM's technical completion, experts believe that he was also sending a message to the USA and North Korea not to allow rash conclusions to lead them into a fatal collision. North Korea generally tests fewer weapons in the fourth quarter because the temperature drops significantly, putting pressure on fuel supplies, and also troops are required to help with harvests.

He, however, parried questions on Trump's tweet about more sanctions against North Korea.

The White House also made this point clear saying the US president is now not focused on regime change in North Korea.

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"President Trump praised our government's such efforts, and underscored the need to deter provocations and counter threats from North Korea with overwhelming power based on the strong joint defense posture of South Korea and the United States", Park said in a press release. It launched an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15, that state-controlled media described as the "most powerful ICBM" carrying a "super-large heavy warhead" to unprecedented heights of nearly 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles).