North Korea fires suspected intercontinental ballistic missile, S.Korea says

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North Korea fired what was apparently an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), South Korea said on Friday, a day after it launched a smaller missile and warned of “fiercer military responses” to the US boosting its regional security presence.

Japan’s Coast Guard also reported the launch.

South Korea’s defence ministry said the missile appeared to be an ICBM, which is North Korea’s longest-range weapon and is designed to carry a nuclear warhead as far as any location in the continental United States.

A day earlier, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile while its foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, warned of “fiercer military responses” to US moves to boost its military presence, saying Washington was taking a “gamble it will regret”.

In a statement carried by state media, Choe condemned a Sunday trilateral summit of the United States, South Korea and Japan during which those countries’ leaders criticised Pyongyang’s weapons tests and pledged greater security cooperation.

This year North Korea has conducted a record number of ballistic missile tests, which are banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions that have sanctioned the country over its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

The North has also fired hundreds of artillery shells into the sea recently as South Korea and the United States staged exercises, some of which involved Japan.