SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea, defying calls to curb its weapons program, fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia on Sunday in a launch the United States called a message to South Korea days after its new president took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally supervised the midnight launch of the missile on Friday night and said it was a “stern warning” for the United States that it would not be safe from destruction if it tries to attack, the North’s official KCNA news agency said.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said initial assessments showed the missile landed 97 km (60 miles) south of Russia’s Vladivostok region.
The missile flew 700 km (430 miles) and reached an altitude of more than 2,000 km (1,245 miles), according to officials in South Korea and Japan, further and higher than an intermediate-range missile North Korea successfully tested in February from the same region of Kusong, northwest of its capital Pyongyang.
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the launch, diplomats said on Sunday.
The U.S. military’s Pacific Command said it was assessing the type of missile that was fired but it was “not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile”. The U.S. threat assessment has not changed from a national security standpoint, a U.S. official said.