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

23 May 2017

North Korea has confirmed details of its latest missile launch.

North Korea said on Monday that it had successfully tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile and is ready for deployment.

The South's military said the launch had provided the North with data to improve its missiles' reliability, but whether it had mastered the re-entry technology for the warhead needs additional analysis.

The news agency said the test was meant to verify technical indexes of the weapon system and examine its adaptability under various battle conditions before deployment to military units.

North Korea continues its testing of ballistic missiles, some of which it claims is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, despite several warnings and strong sanctions being imposed by the United Nations.

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Turkey condemned North Korea's latest missile test on Monday and called on the isolated state to stop its "provocative behaviour".

USA officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the test did not demonstrate a new capability, or one that could threaten the U.S. directly.

Western experts say the Hwasong-12 test did appear to have advanced North Korea's aim of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, even if it is still some way off from achieving that capability.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says the rocket flew eastward about 500 kilometers (310 miles).

South Korea's military downplayed this assertion, saying the missile's flight range was projected to be less than 4,500 kilometers, not long enough to hit the US mainland but able to target USA military bases in Guam, about 3,400 kilometers away from the North.

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These are probably the only options available to prevent North Korea from developing a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM.) And the only option that has any reasonable chance of success is to pursue a deal similar to the 2015 Iran nuclear accord that was called "the worst deal ever" by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The details about the missile comes amid concerns that Pyongyang could target South Korea and US amid growing tensions surrounding the reclusive nation's nuclear advancements.

China - an ally of North Korea - had no immediate comment.

The use of solid fuel presents advantages for weapons because the fuel is more stable and can be transported easily in the missile's tank, allowing for a launch at very short notice.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch a "challenge to the world" that trampled global efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear and missile problems peacefully, and vowed to bring up the issue as the "main agenda" of this week's G7 summit in Italy. He added that he "approved the deployment of this weapon system for action". North Korea's media said more missiles will be launched in the future. But KCNA said last week's missile test put Hawaii and Alaska within range. Kim has frequently expressed outrage at the USA, most recently for massive military exercises conducted with South Korea and for US deployment of an anti-missile system created to counter the Pyongyang missile threat.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a National Security Council meeting at the presidential Blue House to discuss the missile launch.