North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has praised a new ballistic missile test as “greatest success and victory” as the UN Security Council convened to discuss the launch.
Kim hailed the test as a sign that North Korea has “joined the front rank of the military powers fully equipped with nuclear attack capability,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Thursday.
He also urged North Korean scientists to step up efforts to mount nuclear warheads on all types of ballistic missiles so that they could be used “to cope with the unpredicted total war and nuclear war with the US imperialists.”
The missile was launched from a submarine near the North Korean coastal city of Sinpo early Wednesday. It reportedly flew some 500 km (311 miles) and entered Japan’s air identification zone before landing in the Sea of Japan.
That means all of South Korea, and possibly parts of Japan, are within the North Korean missile’s range.
The KCNA said the test was meant to evaluate the stability of the underwater launching system, the flight features of the solid-fuel missile, the reliability of the control and guidance system as well as the accuracy of the warhead in hitting targets after it reenters the atmosphere.
Hours after the launch, the foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea condemned the test during an annual trilateral meeting in Tokyo, urging Pyongyang to exercise “self-restraint” and avoid “provocative” actions.
The US slammed North Korea’s missile launch as a provocation and vowed to raise the issue at the United Nations.