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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

North Korea says missile launch is 'prelude' to containing Guam

The UN condemned Pyongyang's test flight over Japan and demanded it halt its weapons programme

Moody's says that aggression from North Korea - which this week fired a missile over Japan - and rhetoric from US President Donald Trump has heightened the risk of conflict in the Korean Peninsula. Lee Jin-man / AP
Moody's says that aggression from North Korea - which this week fired a missile over Japan - and rhetoric from US President Donald Trump has heightened the risk of conflict in the Korean Peninsula. Lee Jin-man / AP

In another defiant move, North Korea leader Kim Jung-un has vowed there will be more missile test flights over Japan despite UN condemnation and US warnings of severe repercussions.

Pyongyang launched the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile that landed in the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, 1,200km off the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan.

It was a major escalation of tensions over its weapons programmes and drew worldwide condemnation, including from the United Nations Security Council which unanimously demanded that Pyongyang halt its programme.

The UN Security Council, which issued the statement after closed-door talks at its headquarters, said the North's actions "are not just a threat to the region, but to all UN member states".

Mr Kim called the latest test-firing of a missile over Japan a "meaningful prelude" to containing the American territory of Guam, and said he will continue to watch the response of the US before deciding on further action, state media reported.

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North Korea had threatened earlier this month to launch missiles over Japan toward Guam, which prompted warnings of retaliation from US military officials.

The official Korean Central News Agency said the North Korean leader urged his military to conduct more such launches into the Pacific Ocean in the future.

The missile firing was part of "muscle-flexing" to protest annual military exercises being held between the US and South Korea, KCNA said.

More than 20 photos of the launch near Pyongyang, along with pictures of My Kim smiling broadly while surrounded by aides, were published on the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, a mouthpiece of the ruling party, on Wednesday. Another showed him gazing upwards as the missile rose into the air.

US president Donald Trump said the world had received North Korea’s latest message “loud and clear”, and that "all options are on the table".

At the Security Council emergency meeting US ambassador Nikki Haley warned that "enough is enough" and that tough action had to be taken.

"It's unacceptable," Ms Haley said. "They have violated every single UN Security Council resolution that we've had, and so I think something serious has to happen."

The rhetoric has ratcheted up in recent weeks, with Mr Trump threatening to rain "fire and fury" on the North, after the regim threatened to send a salvo of missiles towards the US territory of Guam.

North Korea's statement on Wednesday was the first time it has acknowledged sending a missile over Japan's main islands. Two of its rockets previously did so, in 1998 and 2009, but on both occasions it claimed they were space launch vehicles.

Independent analysts posted images online suggesting that Mr Kim's map showed an intended flight path of 3,200km, implying the missile may have fallen 500km short. A South Korean defence official told AFP they were still analysing the North's images.