North Korea has said its latest ballistic missile launch was a success, South Korean media reported today.
"The ballistic rocket flew toward the east sky where the day broke and correctly hit a planned target point with deviation of seven metres after flying over the middle shooting range," South Korean news agency Yonhap said, quoting a report from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The missile reportedly was "capable of making (an) ultra-precision strike" and the test-launch verified the missile''s stability with a loaded warhead, KCNA said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (photo) observed the launch and apparently said the missile was like a "sniper''s rifle," according to Yonhap.
A ballistic missile launched early yesterday by the reclusive nation flew 450 kilometres from the eastern coastal city of Wonsan and landed in the Sea of Japan, according to South Korean and US authorities.
US President Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed last Friday, on the sidelines of the Group of Seven meeting in Sicily, to increase sanctions on North Korea amid concerns that the dictatorship is developing a nuclear weapons programme.
The United States vowed to cooperate with Japan and South Korea "to increase pressure on North Korea and demonstrate that North Korea's current path is not sustainable," a statement from the White House said.
In Tokyo today, Prime Minister Abe's top security adviser urged China to play a bigger role in restraining North Korea's nuclear and missile development programmes, Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
National security adviser Shotaro Yachi made the call at a meeting near Tokyo with China's top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, yesterday, the same day that North Korea conducted the latest in a quick succession of missile tests.
Order to develop more powerful weapons issued
Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency said today that following the successful testing of a ballistic missile controlled by a precision guidance system yesterday, Kim Jong-un had ordered the development of more powerful strategic weapons.
Yachi told Yang during five hours of discussion that North Korea's actions had reached a new level of provocation.
"Japan and China need to work together to strongly urge North Korea to avoid further provocative actions and obey things like United Nations resolutions," Yachi was quoted as telling Yang, urging China to take on a bigger role.
They also discussed regional issues of concern, with China's Foreign Ministry saying in a statement that Yang told Japan it should view China's development as an opportunity, not a threat, and that it should deal with issues like the South China Sea and Taiwan cautiously and keep its word.
China, the world's second-largest economy, and Japan, the third-largest, have a difficult political history, with ties strained by the legacy of Japan's World War Two aggression and conflicting claims over a group of uninhabited East China Sea islets.
Beijing is also suspicious about Tokyo's stance on the disputed South China Sea and over self-ruled Taiwan, once a Japanese colony and claimed by China as its own.
Yang said relations were currently at an important juncture, with both new opportunities and outstanding challenges, China's Foreign Ministry said last night.
He called on Japan to speak and act cautiously on the South China Sea and to play a constructive role as relevant countries in the region are making efforts to solve the issue properly.
However, the Chinese statement made no mention of North Korea.
- dpa, Reuters