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

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo shortly after learning that North Korea conducted a missile launch test Sunday morning

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo shortly after learning that North Korea conducted a missile launch test Sunday morning

For its part, the US Treasury explained that it is considering all of its available tools to deny North Korea access to the worldwide financial system to rein in its nuclear weapons and missile development programs.

"It is considered an IRBM [intermediate range ballistic missile] of enhanced caliber compared to Musudan missiles that have continually failed", Han said while also stating Sunday's test was "successful in flight".

"The launch of such ballistic missiles is a serious threat to our country", Abe said, considering the action a grave threat to the region and a violation of United Nations resolutions on North Korea's arms programs.

North Korea has maintained that the missile test was in response to the nuclear dangers and threats posed by the US and its allies.

North Korea, which has defied calls to rein in its weapons program - even from its lone major ally China, has been working on a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead capable of striking the USA mainland.

The missile flew 787 kilometres on a trajectory reaching an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometres, the North's KCNA news agency said. On the respected 38 North website, aerospace engineering specialist John Schilling said it appeared to demonstrate an intermediate-range ballistic missile that could "reliably strike the U.S. base at Guam" in the Pacific, 3,400 kilometres away.

But on Tuesday, a North Korean diplomat defended its recent missile test-launch, telling the UN Conference on Disarmament it was a legitimate act of self-defence under global law.

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The test came just days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has called for closer engagement with the North, was inaugurated in Seoul.

He urged other world leaders to "stop intimidating North Korea and find a peaceful solution to the problem".

Pyongyang's actions are also seen as a threat by its neighbors, Japan and South Korea, and their allies, such as the United States.

North Korea has rebuffed cries for it to cease missile and nuclear testing, calling each of them acts of self defense.

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.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told ABC television that new sanctions against North Korea could hit oil imports and energy.

Despite North Korea's claim that Sunday's test simulated a re-entry situation, South Korean defense officials say the North probably has yet to master the technology.

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