North Korea says ICBM tested can carry large nuclear warhead, triggering condemnation from US

A woman walking past a television screen showing a picture of North Korea's test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), at a railway station in Seoul, on July 4, 2017.
A woman walking past a television screen showing a picture of North Korea's test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), at a railway station in Seoul, on July 4, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (REUTERS, AFP) - North Korea said on Wednesday (July 5) it had conducted a test of a newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can carry a large and heavy nuclear warhead, triggering a call by Washington for global action to hold Pyongyang accountable for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the successful test completed the country's strategic weapons capability that includes atomic and hydrogen bombs and ICBMs.

He added that Pyongyang would not negotiate with the United States to give up those weapons until Washington abandons its hostile policy against the North, the country's KCNA news agency said.

The ICBM test was a "gift" to American on their independence day, said KCNA, citing Mr Kim.

The test on Tuesday (July 4) successfully verified the technical requirements of the newly developed ICBM in stage separation, the atmospheric re-entry of the warhead and the late-stage control of the warhead, KCNA said.

The Pentagon said it was prepared to defend the US and its allies against the growing threat from North Korea as it condemned Pyongyang's test launch of an ICBM.

"We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies and to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat from North Korea," said Pentagon spokesman Dana White.

"Our commitment to the defence of our allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, remains ironclad."

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for international action, saying the test was a new escalation of Pyongyang's nuclear threat.

In a statement, Mr Tillerson warned that any country that hosts North Korea workers, provides economic or military aid to Pyongyang, or fails to implement United Nations sanctions "is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime".

"All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons," Mr Tillerson said.

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on the matter at 1900 GMT on Wednesday (Singapore time 3am Thursday), following a request by the US, Japan and South Korea.

The North's state media said the missile, Hwasong-14, flew 933km, reaching an altitude of 2,802km over a flight time of 39 minutes. Some analysts said the flight details suggested the new missile had a range of more than 8,000km, which would put significant parts of the US mainland in range, representing major advances in its programme.

North and South Korea have been divided since the war on the peninsula ended in 1953 with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, and Pyongyang says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion.