UN Security Council vows sanctions over N. Korea missile test


North Korea's missile programme is progressing faster than expected, South Korea's defence minister said on Tuesday, hours after the UN Security Council demanded the North halt all nuclear and ballistic missile tests and condemned Sunday's test-launch.

A UN Security Council meeting has now been called by the US, South Korea and Japan for tomorrow (May 16) to discuss North Korea's actions, said diplomats.

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.

A closed-door emergency Council session was set for tomorrow.

The test is also an immediate challenge to South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, a liberal elected last week who expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea.

"North Korea has been a flagrant menace for far too long..."

On Monday morning, North Korea officially confirmed that it had conducted the launch of a medium-range ballistic missile a day before.

The reclusive North, which has defied all calls to rein in its weapons programs, has been working on a missile, mounted with a nuclear warhead, capable of striking the US mainland.

The missile was launched on an unusually high trajectory, with KCNA saying it flew to an altitude of 2,111.5km and travelled 787km before coming down in the Sea of Japan.

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Guam is 3,400 km from North Korea.

That is a slap in the face for South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, who has promised greater engagement with the North, and suggests that the missile launch was an attempt to improve Pyongyang's negotiating position with a more hardline USA under President Donald Trump.

Leader Kim Jong-Un's ambition is to develop a nuclear weapon capable of striking the United States.

"We call upon the DPRK not to disregard existing opportunities for dialogue and to cease its behaviour which serves only to harm peace and security in the region", it said.

Pictures that have emerged online show the leader of the rogue nation happily watching over as North Korea launched the missile reportedly capable of carrying a "large scale heavy nuclear warhead". The extreme altitude also shows that as the North Koreans flawless guidance systems, the missile could go much further and threaten US bases in Japan or on Guam.

Monday morning, Putin called the test "counter-productive and risky".

Jin Meihua, from the Northeast Asia Research Centre in Jilin province, said: "North Korea must have somehow prepared for possible further sanctions before this latest test".

Pyongyang has conducted two nuclear tests and dozens of missile launches since the start of 2016, prompting the United Nations to adopt two sanction resolutions previous year to ramp up pressure on North Korea.

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