This image made from video of a news bulletin aired by North Korea's KRT on Monday, May 22, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, watches the test launch of what was said to be the Pukguksong-2 missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. It did not immediately provide more details.
SEOUL-North Korea successfully launched its second ballistic missile in a little more than a week, ramping up the pace of its testing as it seeks to develop the ability to target the continental USA with a nuclear-tipped weapon.
Command Cmdr. David Benham said an assessment of the tests revealed the launches did not pose a threat to North America, but he emphasized that US officials were closely monitoring the tests and pledged "ironclad commitment" to allies in the region.
In a statement, the South Korean military said it was "maintaining high vigilance".
South Korea, which called the launch "reckless and irresponsible", said the missile flew about 500 kilometers (300 miles) from an area near Pukchang, in western North Korea.
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"Now that its tactical and technical data met the requirements of the Party, this type of missile should be rapidly mass-produced in a serial way to arm the KPA Strategic Force", Kim said, referring to the North's army, according to the KCNA report.
KCNA said last week's missile test put Hawaii and Alaska within range.
North Korea said that launch tested the capability to carry a "large-size heavy nuclear warhead" and put the USA mainland within "sighting range".
John Schilling, a missile expert contributing to Washington's 38 North think tank, estimated it would take until at least 2020 for North Korea to be able to develop an ICBM capable of reaching the United States mainland and until 2025 for one powered by solid fuel.
On Sunday, the North Korean military conducted a second, successful test of the Pukguksong-2, a solid-fuel intermediate range ballistic missile based on a design derived from the country's submarine-launched ballistic missile.
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At a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is considering diplomatic and other options including sanctions to counter the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear programme, Pyongyang fired an unidentified projectile showing its defiant behaviour to the worldwide community.
On Tuesday the Security Council is scheduled to hold urgent consultations to discuss further steps in reaction to the recent missile launch by North Korea.
In an interview with "Fox News Sunday", U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the ongoing testing is "disappointing" and "disturbing".
The UN Security Council on Monday vowed to push all countries to tighten sanctions against North Korea as it prepared for a closed-door meeting called in response to the latest missile launch.
Experts say solid fuel engines and mobile launchers make it more hard to detect signs of launch preparations. North Korea can roll a solid-fuel missile out of a tunnel or hangar and launch it before satellites can track it. Talmadge is the AP's Pyongyang bureau chief.
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