N Korea fires 'intercontinental ballistic missile'
North Korea proclaimed on Tuesday that it had successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile -- a watershed moment in its push to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.
US experts said the device could reach Alaska, and the launch, which came as the United States prepared to mark its Independence Day, triggered a Twitter outburst from US President Donald Trump who urged China to "end this nonsense once and for all".
The North has long sought to build a rocket capable of delivering an atomic warhead to the continental United States -- something that Trump has vowed: "won't happen".
Its possession of a working ICBM will force a recalculation of the strategic threat it poses.
The "landmark" test of a Hwasong-14 missile was overseen by leader Kim Jong-Un, an emotional female announcer said on state Korean Central Television.
It reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometres and flew 933 kilometres, she added.
The North was "a strong nuclear power state" and had "a very powerful ICBM that can strike any place in the world" she said.
There are still doubts whether the North can miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it onto a missile nose cone, or whether it has mastered the technology needed for it to survive the difficult re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
But the isolated, impoverished country has made great progress in its missile capabilities since the ascension to power of Kim, who has overseen three nuclear tests and multiple rocket launches.
In response to the launch but before the announcement, Trump asked on Twitter: "Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?"
The United Nations has imposed multiple sets of sanctions on Pyongyang over its weapons programmes, which retorts that it needs nuclear arms to defend itself against the threat of invasion.
The "unidentified ballistic missile" was fired from a site in North Phyongan province, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, and came down in the East Sea, the Korean name for the Sea of Japan.
US Pacific Command confirmed the test and said it was a land-based, intermediate range missile that flew for 37 minutes, adding the launch did not pose a threat to North America.
It was estimated to have reached an altitude that "greatly exceeded" 2,500 kilometres, Japan said, prompting arms control specialist Jeffrey Lewis to respond on Twitter: "That's it. It's an ICBM. An ICBM that can hit Anchorage not San Francisco, but still."
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