US confirms North Korea launched intercontinental ballistic missile

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson describes move as a 'new escalation of threat' to the US

This image made from video of a news bulletin aired by North Korea's KRT shows what was said to be the preparation of the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missilehwest
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The US has confirmed that North Korea’s latest missile test was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said the latest provocation was a new escalation of the threat Pyongyang posed to the US and the world.

The US "will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea", he said adding that "global action is required to stop a global threat".

At Washington's request, Japan and South Korea, the United Nations Security Council will be holding an emergency session at 3pm New York time (11pm UAE) on Wednesday.

His statement provided the first confirmation of the US conclusion that the missile was an ICBM, constituting a major technological advancement for the North and its most successful missile test yet. The US military’s initial assessment was that North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile.

In a show of force in response to North Korea’s provocation, US and South Korean soldiers fired “deep strike” precision missiles into South Korean territorial waters on Tuesday, military officials in Seoul said.

The missile firings demonstrated US-South Korean solidarity, the US Eighth Army said.

Mr Tillerson said the UN Security Council meeting was part of a US response that would include “stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable”, using an acronym for the isolated nation’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime,” he said.

The latest provocation came as most Americans were celebrating the Fourth of July holiday.

The prime danger from the US viewpoint is the prospect of North Korea pairing a nuclear warhead with an ICBM. The latest US intelligence assessment is that the North probably does not yet have that capability — putting a small-enough nuclear warhead atop an ICBM.

* with reporting from Associated Press and Agence France-Presse