North Korea
A woman walks past a street monitor in Tokyo, reporting that North Korea had fired a ballistic missile, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 4, 2017. Reuters/Kyodo

North Korea claimed Tuesday to have successfully launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), hours after the United States and South Korea said the reclusive state had fired an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM). The reclusive state launched several IRBMs in the recent months — and while it claimed to have developed an ICBM — it never fired one.

The details on North Korea's launch claims are scant. The Kim Jong Un-led country said the missile was named Hwasong-14. The missile flew over 578 miles and reached an altitude of more than 1,741 miles, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency. The news agency reported the distance covered by the missile suggested it was a mid-range missile.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Pacific Command said it was a land-based, intermediate range ballistic missile, and did not pose a threat to North America.

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The missiles — IRBM and ICBM — differ in their range as their names suggest. An IRBM is a ballistic missile with a range of 1,860-3,410 miles, while an ICBM has a range of more than 3,410 miles and it is developed for nuclear weapons. The performance of these missiles is more or less the same.

North Korea reportedly has developed considerable number of shorter-range missiles, and is working on the technology to develop longer-range missiles. Some experts believe the reclusive nation has the technology to equip its short-range missiles with nuclear warheads, according to the Associated Press. However, it remains unclear if the country has the advanced technology to build an atomic bomb that can fit on a long-range missile. The North has previously conducted long-range satellite launches that critics said were disguised to test missile technology.

Lee Illwoo, a Seoul-based military commentator, told the AP the North’s missile, launched Tuesday, traveled for a much longer period of time. The report noted a North Korean scud-type missile, with a range of about 500 miles would land in its target site within 10 minutes if launched at usual angle of 45 degrees. According to Lee, it could be possible that the North fired either Hwasong-12 missile or a solid-fuel Pukguksong-2. Both these missiles were tested in May.

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Some of the countries that have developed ICBM technology so far are the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., France, Israel and India. North Korea previously threatened the U.S. and South Korea it would launch its ICBM, capable of reaching the mainland U.S. Experts, however, have dismissed these threats.

Following Tuesday’s launch, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize the North and its leader. “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”