North Korea's Kim Jong Un says ICBM an Independence Day 'gift' to 'American b**tards': KCNA

File photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (centre) inspecting the test of a new anti-aircraft guided weapon system. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile test was a "gift to American b**tards" on their independence day, Pyongyang's official news agency on Wednesday (July 5) cited leader Kim Jong Un as saying.

The missile is capable of carrying a "large, heavy nuclear warhead" that can survive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) added.

After personally overseeing the launch, the KCNA reported, Mr Kim said "American b**tards would be not very happy with this gift sent on the July 4 anniversary".

Breaking into peals of laughter, it said, he "added that we should send them gifts once in a while to help break their boredom".

North Korea says ICBM can carry 'large, heavy nuclear warhead'

North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile is capable of carrying a "large, heavy nuclear warhead" that can survive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, its official news agency said on Wednesday.

The device, launched on Tuesday in a watershed moment for Pyongyang's weapons ambitions, was capable of reaching Alaska, according to outside experts.

The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is seen during its test launch in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Korean Central News Agency quoted leader Kim Jong Un, who personally oversaw the test, as having inspected the Hwasong-14 missile and "expressed satisfaction, saying it looked as handsome as a good-looking boy and was well made".

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.

The US "attempts to test our determination and ignores our warnings", KCNA indirectly cited Kim as saying, and the North's long confrontation with Washington had entered the "final stage".

The North is subject to multiple rounds of United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes, and the launch triggered a new chorus of condemnation.

For decades Pyongyang has sought to develop a missile capable of delivering a warhead to the continental United States.

Questions remain about whether the North can miniaturise a nuclear weapon to fit a missile nose cone, or if it has mastered the technology needed for it to survive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

But KCNA said Tuesday's launch had verified "all the technological requirements including heat resistance and structural stability of the re-entry nose cone", which it said was made of carbon composite.

"Under harsh conditions involving thousands of degrees of heat, pressure and tremors, the temperature inside the nose cone was stable between 25-45 degrees Celsius," it said, adding the warhead "flew flawlessly and struck the target precisely".

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