North Korea's Missile Program Is Progressing Faster Than Expected: South Korea

People watch a South Korean TV news broacast showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch at a railway station in Seoul

People watch a South Korean TV news broacast showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch at a railway station in Seoul

South Korea said on Monday it will send special envoys to the United States, China, Japan, Russia, and Germany to establish firmer ties as tensions mount on the Korean Peninsula in the wake of a missile launch by North Korea over the weekend, according to Reuters.

Aside from space launches, Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in the U.S. said, "this is the longest-range missile North Korea has ever tested".

The South Korean president has repeatedly pledged to seek dialogue with North Korea, having served as chief of staff when the last inter-Korean summit took place in 2007.

The UN Security Council on Monday strongly condemned North Korea's latest ballistic missile test and vowed to ratchet up the pressure on the regime, including sanctions, ahead of an emergency meeting to discuss the launch.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hailed the launch as a test of the "perfect weapon system" and capable of carrying "a large-size heavy nuclear warhead".

Contained in the nonbinding press statement, which has to be approved by all members, is the emphasis the council places on the vital importance of the North "immediately showing honest commitment to denuclearization through concrete action" and the need to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

In all, six sanction resolutions have been imposed on North Korea, since it carried out its first nuclear test in 2006. Some experts, including officials in Tokyo, estimate that Sunday's launch successfully tested a new type of missile, potentially the longest in Pyongyang's arsenal.

North Korea made a global appeal in a letter released on Friday for states to reconsider enforcing U.N. sanctions on the Asian nation.

Japanese officials say the missile flew for about 30 minutes, traveling about 800 kilometers (500 miles) and reaching an altitude of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles).

North Korea on Sunday launched what appeared to be its longest-range ballistic missile yet, saying it was capable of carrying a "heavy nuclear warhead" in a test aimed at bringing the United States mainland within reach.

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North Korea is not thought to be able yet to make a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile, though some outside analysts think it can arm shorter-range missiles with warheads.

The North's foreign ministry rejected the statement, saying it infringed on its right to self-defence, particularly as the missile was test-launched at a sharp angle to ensure safety of neighbouring countries. It could have a range of 4,500 kilometers (about 2,800 miles), putting the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam easily within range.

"More importantly", he added, it "may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile".

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said on ABC television that the United States has been working well with China and raised the possibility that new sanctions against North Korea could include oil imports.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in slammed the latest missile test as a "reckless provocation".

South Korea's Han said Sunday's test was "successful in flight".

U.S. Disarmament Ambassador Wood said China was key given that 90 percent of North Korea's trade was with that country.

North Korea says it has no choice but to advance its nuclear and missile development to defend itself from attack.

The Russian premier said peaceful talks must be held to resolve escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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