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20 May 2017, 03:51 | Terri Saunders
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It is believed that North Korea is carrying out launch tests with "lofted" trajectories to test the longer range capabilities of its new missiles without triggering a potential shoot down from the United States or Japan.
North Korea, which regularly threatens to destroy the United States in a sea of flames, has accused Washington of pushing the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war with recent military drills with South Korea and Japan.
South Korea, Japan and the USA swiftly condemned the launch, which jeopardises new South Korean leader Moon Jae-in's willingness for dialogue with the North.
It's boasting that this rocket can carry a large and heavy nuclear warhead.
That suggests a range of 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) or more if flown for maximum distance, analysts said.
US defense officials said it landed about 60 miles from the Russian coast. Firing the missile at high altitudes could also help North Korea test the technologies needed for warheads to withstand the re-entry through the earth's atmosphere.
But Japanese officials said the missile flew for about 30 minutes, travelling about 800km and reaching an altitude of 2,000km - a flight pattern that could indicate a new missile type.
The United States called the missile launch a message to South Korea, days after Moon took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue and keep up global pressure to impede the North's arms pursuit.
"It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile that might enable them to reliably strike the USA base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile".
North Korea says the medium long-range strategic missile it tested over the weekend can carry a nuclear warhead.
State media paraphrased North Korea's leader as saying that "the most ideal weapon systems in the world will never become the eternal exclusive property of the USA", warning that "the US should not ... disregard or misjudge the reality that its mainland and Pacific operation region are in (North Korea's) sighting range for strike".
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A North Korean diplomat said today the election victory by left-leaning South Korean President Moon Jae-In reflected the people's "longing" for change.
"The president expressed deep regret over the fact that this reckless provocation ... occurred just days after a new government was launched in South Korea", senior presidential secretary Yoon Young-chan said.
The test gives a boost to leader Kim Jong Un as he seeks to show his people that he's standing up to America and South Korea.
But, he added: "We must stop intimidating North Korea and find a peaceful solution to this problem".
ABC News takes a look at what we know and don't know about the latest North Korean missile launch.
KCNA said Kim accused the United States of "browbeating" countries that "have no nukes", warning Washington not to misjudge the reality that its mainland is in the North's "sighting range for strike".
The Security Council has adopted six increasingly tougher sanctions resolutions against North Korea.
While Trump has said he'd be "honored" to talk with leader Kim under favorable conditions, Haley seemed to rule out the possibility.
"Having a missile test is not the way to sit down with the president, because he's absolutely not going to do it", Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told "This Week".
"The test-fire proved to the full all the technical specifications of the rocket. like guidance and stabilization systems. and reconfirmed the reliability of new rocket engine under the practical flight circumstances", KCNA said. The Missile Defense Agency defines medium-range missiles as having a range of between 600 and 1,800 miles.
Another aerospace engineering specialist, John Schilling, said the launch appeared to demonstrate an intermediate-range ballistic missile that could "reliably strike the USA base at Guam" in the Pacific.
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