The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on Monday it had successfully conducted a newly developed mid-to-long range missile test on Sunday, supervised by its leader Kim Jong-un.
A ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia was fired on Sunday in a launch that Washington called a message to South Korea. The test took place only days after its president Moon Jae-in took office, pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.
"The test-fire aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly-developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead," the North's official KCNA news agency said.
"If the US awkwardly attempts to provoke the DPRK, it will not escape from the biggest disaster in history," KCNA quoted Kim as saying. The DPRK leader accused the US of "browbeating" countries that "have no nukes" and warned Washington not to misjudge the reality that its mainland is in the North's "sighting range for a strike," KCNA reported.
TRT World's Joseph Kim has more about North Korea's latest missile test.
The missile was launched at the highest angle so as not to affect the security of neighbouring countries and flew 787 kilometres reaching an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometres, KCNA said.
South Korea's military said on Monday that more analysis was needed to verify the North's claim of technological advancement in its missile programme.
Experts said the altitude reached by the missile tested on Sunday meant it was launched at a high trajectory, which would limit the lateral distance it travelled. But if it was fired at a standard trajectory, it would have a range of at least 4,000 km, experts said.
North Korea is believed to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching the United States mainland.
The US military's Pacific Command said the type of missile that was fired was "not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile."
UN to meet after North's missile test
The UN Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss North Korea's latest missile launch, diplomats said on Sunday as the US and allies South Korea and Japan requested the meeting.
US Ambassador to the UN 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," Haley told ABC's "This Week" programme, referring to North Korea's leader.
The report on the missile's flight was largely consistent with South Korean and Japanese assessments on Sunday, which is further and higher than an intermediate-range missile tested in February from the same region, northwest of Pyongyang.
"North Korea's latest successful missile test represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile," Washington-based monitoring project, 38 North, said in an analysis issued on Sunday.
"It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that might enable them to reliably strike the US base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)," it said.
Plot to assassinate Kim?
Pyongyang on Monday renewed its accusation of a US and South Korean intelligence plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
The DPRK's ambassador to China said the US Central Intelligence Agency and South Korean National Intelligence Service conspired "secretly and meticulously" in hatching their plot to use "radioactive or nano-poisonous substances" to assassinate Kim.
"We believe this extreme crime was orchestrated by hostile forces in order to damage North Korea's domestic affairs," Ambassador Ji Jae-ryong said.
Earlier this month, Pyongyang accused the two intelligence services of a failed plot to assassinate Kim with a biochemical bomb at a military parade in the capital.