North Korea on Monday confirmed the ‘successful’ launch of a medium-range ballistic missile, Pyongyang’s state media said, adding the weapon was now ready to be deployed for military action.
Leader Kim Jong-Un oversaw the launch, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported, adding that he “approved the deployment of this weapon system.”
KCNA said the missile tested was the Pukguksong-2, a land-based version of Pyongyang’s submarine-launched weapon, which uses solid-fuel which allows for immediate firing.
“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, KCNA reported.
The missile, which was described by Washington as medium-range, was fired from Pukchang in South Pyongan province and traveled about 500 kilometres (310 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan, according to the South’s armed forces.
The US, South Korea and Japan sharply denounced the launch and jointly requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the matter.
The launch came just one week after the North fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile, which according to Pyongyang flew almost 800 kilometres and was capable of carrying a “heavy” nuclear warhead.
Analysts said the Hwasong traveled farther than any previous ballistic missile launched by the North and took the North a step closer to its goal of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.
The launches, and a threatened sixth nuclear test, have fueled tension with the administration of US President Donald Trump, who has vowed that such an ICBM launch “won’t happen.”
Uruguay, which holds the UN Security Council’s presidency, scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, just a week after the council had met to discuss an earlier launch.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described the latest launch, the 10th this year, as “disappointing” and “disturbing,” but rejected a suggestion that the US strategy to tackle North Korea was not working.