North Korea claims it has completed its nuclear and missile development program with the launch of a new type of missile capable of reaching mainland United States.
- New Hwasong-15 missile reached an altitude of more than 4,000 kilometres
- North Korea says missile was equipped with a "super-large, heavy warhead"
- Kim Jong-un celebrated "completing the state nuclear force"
A statement released by the regime claims the new "Hwasong-15" rocket was successfully fired this morning.
The missile was sent more than 4,000 kilometres high, before splashing down into the Sea of Japan — about 370 kilometres from Japan's coast.
The missile is the North's most powerful ever, and it flew 950 kilometres for 53 minutes, according to a statement read by a television presenter.
The North Korean regime said the new missile was equipped with a "super-large, heavy warhead".
The statement said leader Kim Jong-un watched the launch and "declared with pride that we have finally realised the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force".
The statement said the DPRK — the name the regime uses to refer to itself — would use nuclear weapons to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and did not pose a threat to others "as long as the interests of the DPRK are not infringed upon".
"This is our solemn declaration" the statement said.
The missile was launched early this morning, apparently from a mobile launcher near Pyongyang.
The test, North Korea's first since mid-September, came a week after US President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a US list of countries it says support terrorism, allowing it to impose more sanctions.
North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under Mr Kim in defiance of international sanctions.
Mr Trump has vowed not to let North Korea develop nuclear missiles that can hit the mainland US.
In the statement North Korea described itself as a "responsible nuclear power", but warned its strategic weapons were developed to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity from "the US imperialists' nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat".
US, Japanese and South Korean officials all agreed the missile, which landed within Japan's exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, was likely an ICBM but it did not pose a threat to the US, its territories or allies, the Pentagon said.
"It went higher frankly than any previous shot they've taken, a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world, basically," US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said at the White House.