Nuclear, ICBM tests could be next
North Korea yesterday tested its most powerful missile since 2017, ramping up the firepower for its record-breaking seventh launch this month as Seoul warned nuclear and long-range tests could be next.
Pyongyang has never test-fired this many missiles in a calendar month before and last week threatened to abandon a nearly five-year-long self-imposed moratorium on testing long-range and nuclear weapons, blaming US "hostile" policy for forcing its hand.
With peace talks with Washington stalled, North Korea has doubled-down on leader Kim Jong Un's vow to modernise the regime's armed forces, flexing Pyongyang's military muscles despite biting international sanctions.
South Korea yesterday said that North Korea appeared to be following a "similar pattern" to 2017 -- when tensions were last at breaking-point on the peninsula -- warning Pyongyang could soon restart nuclear and intercontinental missile tests.
North Korea "has come close to destroying the moratorium declaration", South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said in a statement following an emergency meeting of Seoul's National Security Council.
South Korea's military said it had "detected an intermediate-range ballistic missile fired at a lofted angle eastward towards the East Sea."
The missile was estimated to have hit a maximum altitude of 2,000 kilometres and flown around 800 kilometres for half an hour, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The last time Pyongyang tested an intermediate-range missile was the Hwasong-12 in 2017, which analysts said at the time was powerful enough to put the US territory of Guam in range.
Pyongyang has tested hypersonic missiles twice this month, as well as carrying out four launches of short-range ballistic and cruise missiles.