North Korea leader Kim Jong Un said after supervising the test launch of a “medium long-range strategic ballistic missile” that the country came to possess “the sure capability to attack” U.S. interests in the Pacific, official media reported Thursday.
South Korean and U.S. military officials have said North Korea launched what appeared to be two intermediate-range missiles dubbed Musudan Wednesday. The first of the two was considered a failure. The second reached a high altitude in the direction of Japan before plunging into the sea about 250 miles away, they said.
The test firing was successful without any impact to the security of neighboring countries, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, referring to the missile as a “Hwasong-10.” Hwasong is Korean for Mars.
“We have the sure capability to attack in an overall and practical way the Americans in the Pacific operation theater,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying.
South Korea and the U.S. condemned the launch as an unacceptable violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. And Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said the launch was an indication that North Korea’s threat to Japan was intensifying.
The U.N. Security Council, which imposed new sanctions on North Korea in March after its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch in February, was due to meet at the request of the U.S. and Japan.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launches as a “brazen and irresponsible act” ahead of a Security Council meeting on the issue Wednesday.
North Korea has failed in five attempts to launch the intermediate-range missiles, which theoretically have the range to reach any part of Japan and the U.S. territory of Guam. South Korea said Washington and Seoul were analyzing whether the sixth missile launch was successful.
Japan and South Korea said the missile flew at a height of about 620 miles to around 250 miles off its east coast. Experts said North Korea deliberately raised the angle of the launch to avoid hitting any territory of Japan.
North Korea is believed to have as many as 30 Musudan missiles, according to South Korean media. Officials said they were first deployed around 2007, although North Korea had not attempted to test-fire them until this year.