The UN Security Council is expected to meet Wednesday, following Pyongyang's latest missile test. South Korea's military says the DPRK missile had an altitude of 4,500 kilometres and flew 960 kilometres over the sea between South Korea and Japan.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un visits the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Academy on its 70th anniversary, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, October 13, 2017.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un visits the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Academy on its 70th anniversary, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, October 13, 2017. (Reuters)

The United States and Japan have requested that the United Nations Security Council meet on Wednesday to discuss North Korea's latest missile launch, diplomats said on Tuesday.

The requests come after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea fired what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that landed close to Japan on Wednesday, officials said, Pyongyang's first test launch since sending a missile over its neighbour in mid-September.

North Korea fired the missile a week after US President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a US list of countries that Washington says support terrorism. The designation allows the United States to impose more sanctions, although some experts said it risked inflaming tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under its leader, Kim Jong-un, in defiance of UN sanctions. Trump has vowed not to let North Korea develop nuclear missiles that can hit the mainland United States.

Of the latest test missile, Trump told reporters at the White House: "It is a situation that we will handle."

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke by phone and agreed to boost deterrence capability against North Korea, Yasutoshi Nishimura, deputy chief cabinet secretary, told reporters in Tokyo.

Trump said the launch did not change his administration's approach to North Korea, which has included new curbs to hurt trade between China and North Korea, which it sees as important to deterring Pyongyang from its ambition to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States.

Diplomatic solution

Washington has said repeatedly that all options, including military ones, are on the table in dealing with North Korea, but that it prefers a peaceful solution by Pyongyang agreeing to give up its weapons programmes.

"Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now. The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearisation and to ending belligerent actions by North Korea," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

The US State Department, meanwhile, called the missile test a "disappointment." 

Other than carrying out existing UN sanctions, "the international community must take additional measures to enhance maritime security, including the right to interdict maritime traffic" traveling to North Korea, Tillerson said in a statement.

The United States and Japan said the early Wednesday launch appeared to be an ICBM.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning said the Pentagon's initial assessment was that an ICBM was launched from Sain Ni in North Korea and traveled about 1,000 km before splashing down in the Sea of Japan. The missile did not pose a threat to the United States its territories or allies, the Pentagon said.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the ICBM went "higher frankly than any previous shot they've taken."

Japan's government estimated that the missile flew for about 50 minutes and landed in the sea in Japan's exclusive economic zone, Japanese broadcaster NHK said. A North Korean missile on Aug. 29 was airborne for 14 minutes over Japan.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the missile reached an estimated altitude of 4,000 kilometres (2,485 miles) and broke up before landing in Japan's exclusive economic zone. He said it was judged to be ICBM class given its lofted trajectory.

"We will not give in to provocative acts and will increase pressure to the highest level," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

Security Council meeting

The United States and Japan have asked for a United Nations Security Council meeting on Wednesday over the test, diplomats said.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was fired from Pyongsong, a city in South Pyongan Province, at around 1817 GMT over the sea between South Korea and Japan. The South Korean military said the missile had an altitude of around 4,500 km (2,800 miles) and flew 960 km (600 miles).

Minutes after the North fired the missile, South Korea's military conducted a missile-firing test in response, the South Korean military said.

Japan's government estimated that the missile flew for about 50 minutes and landed in the sea in Japan's exclusive economic zone, Japanese broadcaster NHK said. A North Korean missile on Aug. 29 was airborne for 14 minutes over Japan.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the missile reached an estimated altitude of 4,000 kilometres (2,485 miles) and broke up before landing in Japan's exclusive economic zone. He said it was judged to be ICBM class given its lofted trajectory.

"We will not give in to provocative acts and will increase pressure to the highest level," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

South Korea responds

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was fired from Pyongsong, a city in South Pyongan Province, at around 1817 GMT over the sea between South Korea and Japan. The South Korean military said the missile had an altitude of around 4,500 km (2,800 miles) and flew 960 km (600 miles).

Minutes after the North fired the missile, South Korea's military conducted a missile-firing test in response, the South Korean military said.

TRT World spoke to journalist Joseph Kim, who is following the story from Seoul.

Last week, North Korea denounced President Trump's decision to re-list it as a state sponsor of terrorism, calling it a "serious provocation and violent infringement."

The designation allows the United States to impose more sanctions, though some experts said it risked inflaming tensions.

Trump has traded insults and threats with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and warned in his maiden speech to the UN in September that the United States would have no choice but to "totally destroy" North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies.

Washington has said repeatedly that all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea, including military ones, but that it prefers a peaceful solution by Pyongyang agreeing to give up its nuclear and missile programmes.

To this end, Trump has pursued a policy of encouraging countries around the world, including North Korea's main ally and neighbour, China, to step up sanctions on Pyongyang to persuade it to give up its weapons programmes.

North Korea has given no indication it is willing to re-enter dialogue on those terms.

North Korea defends its weapons programmes as a necessary defence against US plans to invade. The United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, denies any such intention.

Source: Reuters