North Korea says ready to deploy, mass-produce new missile

A man passes by a TV news program showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul South Korea Sunday

A man passes by a TV news program showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul South Korea Sunday

North Korea on Sunday, May 21, fired a midrange ballistic missile, USA and South Korean officials said, in the latest weapons test for a country speeding up its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

In a unanimous statement backed by Pyongyang's ally China, the UN Security Council yesterday strongly condemned Sunday's test-firing of the medium-range Pukguksong-2, instructing the UN sanctions committee to redouble efforts to implement a series of tough measures adopted past year.

The United Nations Security Council condemned the launch on Monday and accused North Korea of "highly destabilizing behavior and flagrant and provocative defiance", according to Reuters.

The incursion came with tension already high on the Korean peninsula after the North's test-launch of a ballistic missile test on Sunday which Pyongyang said proved advances in its pursuit of building a nuclear-tipped weapon that can hit USA targets.

The Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim Jong-un was very satisfied with the launch and ordered to begin serial production of this type of missile for North Korea's strategic forces.

North Korea, also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the programme is necessary to counter U.S. aggression. The missile could be a stepping stone to a truly intercontinental ballistic missile-one that could reach the US.

Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has vowed further economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang.

The North's state news agency saying it was powered by a solid fuel engine - which allows for launches at short notice.

But spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said the allies believe more analysis is required to verify whether the test showed the North had achieved a breakthrough in re-entry technology.

All 15 council members, including the North's closest ally China, approved the statement ahead of Tuesday's consultations where France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said a new sanctions resolution will be discussed.

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Tensions are high in the region over the nuclear-armed North's weapons ambitions, and the incident comes only two days after its latest missile launch.

North Korea has disclosed a series of images of the Earth it says were taken by a camera carried aboard a ballistic missile during the country's latest test.

Pyongyang conducted two unauthorized nuclear test explosions a year ago and about two dozen rocket launches.

North Korea's missiles so far have been liquid-fuelled, which have to be filled with propellant before launch, while solid fuel missiles can be fired far more rapidly.

But Coats acknowledged gaps in USA intelligence about North Korea and the thinking of its leader Kim Jong Un.

The first Pukguksong-2 test was on February 12 from Banghyon Air Base in North Pyongan Province.

Washington has been trying to persuade China to agree to new sanctions on North Korea, which has conducted dozens of missile firings and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of previous year.

South Korea's army fired around 90 machine gun rounds into the air and towards the North.

Guam could be one of the closest targets for North Korea as it is a refueling and staging hub for the US military operations in East Asia and also home to several USA strategic bombers, according to Yonhap. That makes them easier to spot and easier to destroy.

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