5 Jul 2017

Russia, China urge freeze in North Korea missile launches

5:33 am on 5 July 2017

Russia and China urged North Korea to "freeze" its missile and nuclear programmes after it claimed to have successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

A woman walks past a television screen in the South Korean capital Seoul showing a picture of North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea's missile launch shown on South Korean television. Photo: AFP

Both countries also called for a simultaneous suspension of US-South Korea large-scale military exercises.

North Korea said its missile could hit anywhere in the world, but both the US and Russia said the missile presented no threat to either country.

Though the country appears to have made progress, experts believe the device cannot accurately hit a target.

Calling the launch "unacceptable", Russia and China, which share a land border with North Korea, also urged the US to not deploy the Thaad missile system - which aims to intercept attacks from Pyongyang - in South Korea.

The announcement on North Korea state television said the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test was overseen by leader Kim Jong-un.

It said the projectile had reached an altitude of 2802km and flew 933km for 39 minutes before hitting a target in the sea.

North Korea, it said, was now "a full-fledged nuclear power that has been possessed of the most powerful intercontinental ballistic rocket capable of hitting any part of the world".

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released an image of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location.

North Korea's official news agency released an image of the Hwasong-14 missile at an undisclosed location. Photo: AFP / STR / KCNA VIA KNS

David Wright, a physicist with the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists, says that if the reports are correct, this missile could "reach a maximum range of roughly 6700km on a standard trajectory".

That range would allow it to reach Alaska, but not the large islands of Hawaii or the other 48 US states, he says.

But experts also believe that Pyongyang does not have the capacity to miniaturise a nuclear warhead that can fit onto such a missile.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has called on the United Nations Security Council to take steps against North Korea.

Japan described "repeated provocations like this are absolutely unacceptable" and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country would "unite strongly" with the US and South Korea to put pressure on Pyongyang.

US President Donald Trump also responded swiftly on Tuesday.

On his Twitter account he made apparent reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying: "Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?

"Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"


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