North Korea missile programme progressing faster than expected, says South

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defence detachment on Jangjae Islet and the Hero Defence Detachment on Mu Islet located in the southernmost part of the waters off the southwest front in this undated

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defence detachment on Jangjae Islet and the Hero Defence Detachment on Mu Islet located in the southernmost part of the waters off the southwest front in this undated

He warned the USA should not "disregard or misjudge the reality" that its mainland and Pacific operation region were in range for a strike.

North Korea, increasingly isolated over its repeated weapons tests in violation of United Nations resolutions, on Monday renewed its accusation of a US and South Korean intelligence plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong Un.

US officials are closely "monitoring" the aftermath of the latest North Korean missile test after the rogue regime claimed that its newest rocket was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead - and that its arsenal could reach American shores.

The missile reached an altitude of 2,000 kilometers (1,245 miles), a first for a North Korean missile.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russian Federation on Sunday, in a launch the United States called a message to South Korea, days after its new president took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.

After three failures, it was the first successful test of an intermediate-range missile capable of reaching the island of Guam, where the US has a major bomber base.

This image made from video of a news bulletin aired by North Korea's KRT on May 15, 2017, shows what was said to be the launch of the Hwasong-12 missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

The statement also condemned an earlier ballistic missile launch by Pyongyang on April 28 - following that launch, Washington began talks with China on possible new United Nations sanctions.

South Korea's defense minister claimed Tuesday that the North's missile defense program was advancing much faster than originally believed and that the use of the USA -developed and installed THAAD anti-missile system had been used for the first time to detect the authoritarian regime's latest test, Reuters reported. "If the USA dares opt for a military provocation against [us] we are ready to counter it".

Trump to embark on high-stakes 8-day trip abroad
In this May 8 photo, then-FBI Director James Comey speaks to the Anti-Defamation League National Leadership Summit in Washington . The White House said it was "not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the President and Mr Comey".

Russia's defence ministry later said the missile landed about 500 kilometres from its territory and posed no threat. The last set of sanctions, imposed in March, capped China's imports of North Korean coal, a key cash earner for North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim declared in a speech on New Year's Day that his country's program to build inter-continental ballistic missiles had "reached its final stage".

North Korea's latest ballistic missile test may be almost as big a deal as its propaganda machine claims.

South Korea's newly-elected President Moon Jae-in said the launch was a "reckless provocation".

The envoys will meet with high-ranking officials to explain the new South Korean government's policy plans and exchange opinions on how to develop bilateral relations, the presidential Blue House office said.

The country launched a new type of missile into the sea of Japan earlier this week, and South Korean Defence Minister Han Min-koo told Parliament the test was "successful in flight".

North Korea's past satellite rocket launches have been called clandestine tests of ICBM technology, but it is not thought to have tested a true intercontinental ballistic missile yet.

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. For Pyongyang, this would mean a guarantee that the Kim regime survives and that its nuclear program can continue.

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