North Korea broke its silence on its latest launch, saying it successfully tested a new type of mid- to long-range missile, and it warned the United States that it is in its “sighting range” for a strike.
The statement by North's official KCNA news agency on May 15 said the test was aimed at verifying the capability to carry a "large-scale heavy nuclear warhead."
It said the test was supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, who warned the United States not to misjudge the country’s military capabilities.
North Korea's test of the ballistic missile early on May 14 triggered an international outcry, with the EU and NATO calling it a "threat to international peace and security" and Russia and China voicing concern about mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The missile flew more than 787 kilometers and reached an altitude of 2,112 kilometers, KCNA said, basically matching what officials in South Korea and Japan had determined earlier.
The missile landed in the Sea of Japan surrounded by the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the Russian Far East.
"The test-fire aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead," KCNA said.
Experts said the distance flown by the missile would suggest a range of 4,500 kilometers if flown for maximum distance, putting a U.S. base in Guam within its capabilities.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, told ABC TV that Kim was "in a state of paranoia."
"He’s incredibly concerned about anything and everything around him,” Haley said.
In a tweet, she added, "There are no excuses that justify N. Korea's actions.This was close to home for Russia. China can't expect dialogue. This threat is real."
North Korea is widely believed to be developing an intercontinental missile tipped with a nuclear weapon that is capable of reaching the United States. President Donald Trump has vowed not to let that happen.
The U.S. military said the type of missile fired on May 14 was "not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile."
North Korea’s missile program has been banned by United Nations resolutions, but it has continued to test ballistic missiles and to develop its nuclear program.
The launch is the first since South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, took office this week. He has said he favors engagement with Pyongyang to bring it to the negotiating table, in contrast to a tougher stand by his predecessor.
Nevertheless, Moon on May 14 condemned the missile launch as a "reckless provocation."
The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet on May 16 to discuss the missile launch at the request of the United States, South Korea, and Japan, diplomats said.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP