North Korea ICBM launch 'strongly condemned' by White House

North Korea confirmed intercontinental ballistic missile test, a first since 2017

The US has condemned North Korea's test-firing of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which state media confirmed on Thursday.

It was the first full ICBM test by nuclear-armed North Korea since 2017 and flight data indicated the missile flew higher and longer than any of the country's previous tests before it crashed into the sea west of Japan.

Leader Kim Jong-un directly guided the test of the Hwasong-17, news agency KCNA reported.

“The emergence of the new strategic weapon of [North Korea] would make the whole world clearly aware of the power of our strategic armed forces once again,” Mr Kim was quoted as saying by KCNA.

He said it was key to deterring nuclear war.

KCNA said the missile flew for 1,090 kilometres to a maximum altitude of 6,248.5km and hit a target in the sea.

A missile launch in North Korea. Korean Central News Agency via Reuters

The American government on Thursday urged the world to hold Pyongyang responsible for breaching UN Security Council resolutions.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington “strongly condemns the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for its test of a long-range ballistic missile".

“This launch is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilising the security situation in the region.”

Japan and South Korea also condemned the test.

The US Armed Forces' Indo-Pacific Command said the launch did not pose an immediate threat to US territory or personnel, or its allies. It said North Korea must stop such destabilising acts.

The test brought an end to a self-imposed moratorium on long-range testing and represents a major step in North Korea's development of weapons that could deliver nuclear warheads anywhere in the US.

A screen grab taken from a KCNA broadcast on October 10, 2020 shows North Korean Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missiles during a military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea, on Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang. Nuclear-armed North Korea held a giant military parade, television images showed, with thousands of maskless troops defying the coronavirus threat and Pyongyang expected to put on show its latest and most advanced weapons.
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North Korea's return to major weapons testing poses a new national security headache for US President Joe Biden as he responds to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and presents a challenge to South Korea's incoming conservative administration.

Japanese authorities said the launch appeared to be a “new type” of ICBM that flew for about 71 minutes to an altitude of about 6,000 kilometres and a range of 1,100km from its launch site.

It landed inside Japan's exclusive economic zone, 170km west of the northern prefecture of Aomori, at 3.44pm, the coastguard said.

That is further and longer than North Korea's last ICBM test in 2017, when it launched a Hwasong-15 missile that flew for 53 minutes to an altitude of about 4,475km and range of 950km.

The looming prospect of possible nuclear tests, more joint US-South Korea military drills and a new conservative South Korean president mean “all conditions are present for a tit-for-tat chain reaction of escalatory steps”, said Chad O'Carroll, chief executive of Korea Risk Group, which monitors North Korea.

“Though Biden would prefer to focus exclusively on the Ukraine crisis, it's likely he will soon face crisis-level tensions between the Koreas,” he said.

Updated: March 25, 2022, 2:13 PM