North Korea launches new missile

North Korea has in the past year stepped up its ballistic missile tests, firing dozens of various types of rockets, according to South Korea. And Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada suggested that it might be a new type of missile altogether, noting that it reached an altitude of 2,000 km (1,240 miles) and remained in the air for 30 minutes.

North Korea on Sunday tested what appears to be its longest-range ballistic missile to date, saying it was capable of carrying a "heavy nuclear warhead".

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - North Korea's latest ballistic missile test may be almost as big a deal as its propaganda machine claims.

North Korea's missile test on Sunday was the country's most successful yet, according to analysts, who say Pyongyang may now have a weapon capable of hitting a key U.S. military base in the Pacific.

This picture taken on May 14, 2017 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (3rd R) inspecting a ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location.

Pyongyang's propaganda must be considered with caution, but if confirmed, the claim marks another big step forward in the country's escalating efforts to field a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the USA mainland.

"The United States maintains our ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea", the statement said.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called the launch a message by Pyongyang to South Korea after the election of President Moon Jae-in, who took office on Wednesday.

Outsiders express more skepticism about North Korea's nuclear warhead claims.

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Before Sunday's launch, an intermediate-range missile called Musudan was thought to have the longest potential range among the missiles that North Korea has test-fired - about 3,500 kilometres (2,180 miles).

"As South Korea's diplomatic situation matures, North Korea should also show a more mature attitude, not a childish one, and contribute to (establishing a better) diplomatic relationship".

Here's a closer look at what happened in Sunday's missile launch, which came only a few days after the inauguration of a new South Korean president, and why it's viewed as a worrying development by North Korea's neighbours and Washington.

There are doubts whether Pyongyang can miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it onto a missile nose cone, and no proof it has mastered the re-entry technology needed to ensure it survives returning into Earth's atmosphere. "Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea".

US President Donald Trump's administration has made North Korea a priority security issue.

Could North Korea launch a nuclear missile?

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the launch as "counterproductive, damaging, dangerous".

Trump also said earlier this month he would be "honored" to meet with Kim under appropriate circumstances, although the White House quickly walked that back to stress the current conditions were not right.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was sacked toward the east at around 5:30 AM local time from near Kusong in the northwestern province of Pyongan-pukdo.

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