North Korea ballistic missile test shows regime closer to hitting 'everywhere in the world', US says

North Korea ballistic missile test shows regime closer to hitting 'everywhere in the world', US says

North Korea ballistic missile test shows regime closer to hitting 'everywhere in the world', US says

Updated 29 November 2017, 9:55 AEDT

This morning's North Korean ICBM test went higher than ever, US Defence Secretary James Mattis says, warning the rogue regime is well on track to be able to hit "everywhere in the world" with a nuclear strike.

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile that landed close to Japan, in the first test from the rogue regime since it fired a missile over its neighbour in mid-September.

Key points:

  • Early-morning missile landed in sea to Japan's west
  • Reached altitude of 4,000km, the highest of a North Korea missile yet
  • Mattis says North Korea on track to "endanger world peace"

The Japanese Government called an early morning crisis meeting after the intercontinental ballistic missile launch, which took place in the early hours of the morning, apparently from a mobile launcher near Pyongyang.

It flew for 50 minutes before splashing down about 1,000 kilometres away in the sea to Japan's west, officials said.

An August 29 missile fired by North Korea that flew over Japan was airborne for 14 minutes.

Japan estimates the latest missile reached an altitude of 4,000 kilometres — the highest altitude of a tested North Korean missile yet.

"It went higher, frankly, than any previous shots they have taken," US Defence Secretary James Mattis said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered an emergency meeting of cabinet ministers, held around 3:30am (local time), to discuss the launch.

US President Donald Trump was briefed while the missile was still in the air, while South Korea's military conducted a missile firing exercise in response to the provocation.

In response to the launch, Mr Trump said the United States would "take care of it… it is a situation that we will handle".

The Pentagon said the missile did not pose a threat to the US its territories or allies.

Trump relisted North Korea as state sponsor of terrorism

After firing missiles at a rate of about two or three a month since April, North Korea paused its missile launches in late September, after it fired a missile that passed over Japan's northern Hokkaido island on September 15.

Last week, North Korea denounced Mr Trump's decision to relist it as a state sponsor of terrorism, calling it a "serious provocation and violent infringement".

The designation allows the United States to impose more sanctions, though some experts said it risked inflaming tensions.

Mr Trump has traded insults and threats with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and warned in his maiden speech to the United Nations in September that the US would have no choice but to "totally destroy" North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies.

Washington has repeatedly said all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea, including military ones, but that it prefers a peaceful solution by Pyongyang agreeing to give up its nuclear and missile programs.

To this end, Mr Trump has pursued a policy of encouraging countries around the world, including North Korea's main ally and neighbour, China, to step up sanctions on Pyongyang to persuade it to give up its weapons programs.