North Korea

Kim Jong Un plays starring role in bizarre North Korea missile test-fire video

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has starred in an unusual Pyongyang propaganda video showcasing what the country claims to be its biggest-yet intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The missile was test-fired under the orders of Mr Kim who has vowed to expand the North's "nuclear war deterrent" while preparing for a "long-standing confrontation" with the US.

The report by North Korean state media on Friday came a day after the militaries of South Korea and Japan said they detected the North launching an ICBM in its first long-range test since 2017.

The launch extended a barrage of weapons demonstrations this year that analysts say is aimed at forcing the US to accept the idea of North Korea as a nuclear power and remove crippling sanctions against its broken economy that has been further damaged by the pandemic.

UK Minister for Asia, Amanda Milling said: "The UK condemns the latest launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea; a clear breach of UN Security Resolutions.

"This repeated escalation of testing is deeply damaging for regional security and stability.

"We urge North Korea to refrain from illegal launches, return to dialogue swiftly and to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner."

The Hwasong-17, which was fired at a high angle to avoid the territorial waters of neighbours, reached a maximum altitude of 3,880 miles and travelled 680 miles during a 67-minute flight before landing in waters between North Korea and Japan, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

KCNA claimed the launch met its technical objectives and proved the ICBM could be operated quickly during wartime conditions.

The South Korean and Japanese militaries had announced similar flight details, which analysts say suggested that the missile could reach targets 9,320 miles away when fired on normal trajectory with a warhead weighing less than a ton.

That would place the entire US mainland within striking distance.

Believed to be about 82ft long, the Hwasong-17 is the North's longest-range weapon and, by some estimates, the world's biggest road-mobile ballistic missile system.

Watch: The threat of North Korea and its hypersonic missiles.

South Korea's military responded to Thursday's launch with live-fire drills of its own missiles launched from land, a fighter jet and a ship, underscoring a revival of tensions as diplomacy remains frozen.

It said it confirmed readiness to execute precision strikes against North Korea's missile launch points as well as command and support facilities.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin held separate telephone conversations with his counterparts in South Korea and Japan where they discussed response measures to North Korean missile activities and vowed to strengthen defence co-operation, the US defense department said.

North Korea's resumption of nuclear brinkmanship reflects a determination to cement its status as a nuclear power and wrest economic concessions from Washington and others from a position of strength, analysts say.

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