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U.S. Requests UN Security Council Meeting After North Korean Missile Test

  • RFE/RL

The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is shown during its test-launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on July 4 .

The United States has requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council after North Korea declared that it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The U.S. mission to the UN said on July 4 that the meeting of the 15-member council was likely to be scheduled for July 5.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials were quoted as saying they believed Pyongyang’s claim.

North Korean state television reported that in a July 4 test-launch, the Hwasong-14 missile reached an altitude of 2,800 kilometers and flew 933 kilometers for 39 minutes before hitting a target in the sea.

North Korea, it said, is 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."

The launch, the latest in a series of tests, was in defiance of a ban by the Security Council.

South Korea's military said the missile traveled 930 kilometers on July 4 before falling into the Sea of Japan near Japan's exclusive economic zone. That is just short of a medium-range ballistic missile.

Japan's government confirmed that the missile "greatly exceeded" the altitude of 2,500 kilometers, meaning the missile went into space before reentering Earth's atmosphere.

One U.S. missile scientist, David Wright, said that if the reported time and distance are correct, the missile would have had a very highly arched trajectory.

Based on the reported time and distance, Wright estimated that the missile could have a possible maximum range of 6,700 kilometers if it was fired at a normal trajectory.

That would put Alaska within in its range.

U.S. networks Fox News and NBC quoted U.S. officials as saying they believed the test was of an ICBM. CNN cited officials as saying North Korea launched a "probable" two-stage ICBM.

But while North Korea appears to have made progress, experts believe the device cannot accurately hit a target.

They also doubt that Pyongyang has the capacity to miniaturize a nuclear warhead that can fit onto such a missile.

U.S. President Donald Trump reacted on Twitter, saying it's "hard to believe that South Korea...and Japan will put up with this much longer."

Trump urged North Korea's biggest ally, China, to "put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"

In a joint statement, Russia and China said they agreed on the need for a simultaneous freezing of North Korea's missile and nuclear program and large-scale military exercises by the United States and South Korea.

The statement was issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry following talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in the Kremlin.

It also said that Moscow and Beijing want Washington to immediately halt its deployment of the THAAD antimissile system to South Korea, a move the United States says is necessitated by the North Korean missile threat.

China earlier called for "restraint" by all parties following North Korea’s latest test, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang saying Beijing firmly opposes any actions by North Korea that contravene UN Security Council resolutions on its missile launches.

Meanwhile, Russia's Defense Ministry dismissed the analysis by scientists in the United States, Japan, and South Korea -- saying the missile reached an altitude of only 535 kilometers.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry condemned the test as a "reckless" provocation that violates UN Security Council resolution and the global demand for North Korea’s denuclearization.

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

The missile was launched from an airfield northwest of North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang.

It was the latest since the country fired several cruise missiles in early June and comes ahead of a Group of 20 economic powers meeting in Hamburg, Germany, that will include South Korea, Japan, and their Western allies.

The launch came just days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump met in Washington and agreed that they should leave the door open to possible talks with North Korea on denuclearization.

The launch also occurred ahead of celebrations in the United States marking Independence Day on July 4. North Korea has previously test-fired missiles around the U.S. holiday.

Pyongyang has been working for years to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the continental United States.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, RIA, TASS, the BBC, CNN, Interfax, and Yonhap
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