North Korea says intercontinental ballistic missile test successful

SEOUL, July 4 (Reuters) - North Korea said on Tuesday it successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time, which flew a trajectory that experts said could allow a weapon to hit the U.S. state of Alaska.

The launch came days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations were due to discuss steps to rein in North Korea's weapons program, which it has pursued in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

The launch, which North Korea's state media said was ordered and supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, sent the rocket 933 km (580 miles) reaching an altitude of 2,802 km over a flight time of 39 minutes.

North Korea has said it wants to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead capable of striking the U.S. mainland.

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North Korea's Missiles
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North Korea's Missiles
The scene of the intermediate-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2's launch test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) May 22, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
The long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) is launched during a test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
Missiles are driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high ranking officials during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of North Korea's founding father, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Sue-Lin Wong
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People cheer as a missile is driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high ranking officials during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Military vehicles carry missiles with characters reading 'Pukkuksong' during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father, Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA on the spot in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 7, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERSATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A fire drill of ballistic rockets by Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force is pictured in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 6, 2016. KCNA/via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
FILE PHOTO - An underwater test-firing of a strategic submarine ballistic missile is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on April 24, 2016. KCNA/File Photo via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
A view of a firing contest among multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) batteries selected from large combined units of the KPA, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on December 21, 2016. KCNA/via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
Ballistic rocket is seen launching during a drill by the Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on July 21, 2016. KCNA/via ReutersATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS.Ã TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A test launch of ground-to-ground medium long-range ballistic rocket Hwasong-10 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 23, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A new multiple launch rocket system is test fired in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 4, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA
A rocket is launched during a demonstration of a new large-caliber multiple rocket launching system attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) at an unknown location, in this undated file photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 22, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA/Files ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A rocket is fired during a drill by anti-aircraft units of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 3, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
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To do that it would need an ICBM with a range of 8,000 km (4,800 miles) or more, a warhead small enough to be mounted on it and technology to ensure its stable re-entry into the atmosphere.

Some analysts said the flight details on Tuesday suggested the new missile had a range of more than 8,000 km, underscoring major advances in its program. Other analysts said they believed its range was not so far.

Officials from South Korea, Japan and the United States said the missile landed in the sea in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone after being launched on a high trajectory from near an airfield northwest of the North's capital, Pyongyang.

"The test launch was conducted at the sharpest angle possible and did not have any negative effect on neighboring countries," North Korea's state media said in a statement.

The North said its missiles were now capable of striking anywhere in the world.

"It appears the test was successful. If launched on a standard angle, the missile could have a range of more than 8,000 km," said Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University's Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.

"But we have to see more details of the new missile to determine if North Korea has acquired ICBM technology."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who convened a national security council meeting, said earlier the missile was believed to be an intermediate-range type, but the military was looking into the possibility it was an ICBM.

'HEAVY MOVE'

U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: "North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?" in an apparent reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"Hard to believe South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!," Trump said in a series of tweets.

Stock markets in both South Korea and Japan fell, with the Kospi ending down 0.6 percent and Japan's Nikkei share average ending down 0.1 percent.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would ask the presidents of China and Russia to play more constructive roles in efforts to stop Pyongyang's arms program.

"Leaders of the world will gather at the G20 meeting. I would like to strongly call for solidarity of the international community on the North Korean issue," Abe told reporters.

RELATED: Otto Warmbier: A timeline of the student's North Korea imprisonment:

14 PHOTOS
Otto Warmbier: A timeline of the student's North Korea imprisonment
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Otto Warmbier: A timeline of the student's North Korea imprisonment

January 2016: Warmbier is imprisoned in North Korea, charged with stealing an item that had a state propaganda slogan on it.

March 2016: Warmbier is sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea

March 2016 - 2017: The United States advocates for North Korea's allowing Sweden access to Warmbier and three other American citizens, pushing for their release.

January 2017: President Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, signaling a seat change in American foreign diplomacy.

February 2017: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson briefs President Trump on the situation surrounding Warmbier's imprisonment in North Korea.Trump directs Tillerson to take all appropriate measures in securing the release of U.S. hostages in North Korea.

May 2017:  The U.S. State Department and North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs hold a meeting in Oslo, Norway, during which they agree to the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang's access to all four detainees. Sweden is later granted these visitation rights, prompting North Korea to request a meeting with the United States.

June 6, 2017 - State Department Special Representative Joseph Yun meets with North Korean ambassador Pak Gil Yon at the United Nations in New York. Yun learns during this meeting that Warmbier has been in a coma for over a year.

June 6-11, 2017: Secretary of State Tillerson instructs Yun to travel to North Korea with the mission of bringing back Warmbier. They travel with a medical team to Pyongyang.

June 12, 2017: Through Yun, the United States is able for the first time to confirm Warmbier's status. The U.S. demands Warmbier be released on humanitarian conditions. North Korea complies.

June 13, 2017: Warmbier is evacuated from North Korea, travels to Ohio where he will reunite with his family.

June 13, 2017: Otto Warmbier arrives home to Cincinnati, Ohio
June 15, 2017: Otto Warmbier's father, Fred, speaks out during a press conference on his son's return home.
June 15, 2017: Doctors give updates on Warmbier's status during a news conference at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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Japan said on Monday the United States, South Korea and Japan would have a trilateral summit on North Korea at the G20. Chinese President Xi Jinping will also be at the July 7-8 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called for calm and restraint, and reiterated China's opposition to North Korea's violation of U.N. resolutions on missile tests.

Responding to Trump's tweet, Geng said China had for a long time been working hard to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.

"China's contribution is obvious to all. China's role is indispensable," he told a daily news briefing.

China would continue to work hard and also hoped other parties would work hard too, Geng said.

"We hope all sides can meet each other half way."

North Korea says it needs to develop its weapons in the face of what it sees as U.S. aggression.

It has conducted five nuclear tests, two since the beginning of last year, and numerous missile tests over the past year.

It often times its tests to show its defiance and to raise the stakes when it sees regional powers getting ready for talks or sanctions, analysts say.

The launch took place hours before the Independence Day celebrations in the United States. North Korea has in the past fired missiles around this time.

LAST CHANCE FOR TALKS?

Despite the unprecedented pace of tests since the start of last year, analysts have said they believed North Korea was years away from having a nuclear-tipped ICBM capable of hitting the United States.

North Korea is also trying to develop intermediate-range missiles capable of hitting U.S. bases in the Pacific. The last North Korean launches before Tuesday were of land-to-sea cruise missiles on June 8.

David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said the assessments of the Tuesday flight time and distance suggested the missile might was launched on a "very highly lofted" trajectory of more than 2,800 km.

The same missile could reach a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km on a standard trajectory, Wright said in a blog post.

"That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska," he said.

South Korea's Moon said on Monday North Korea now faced its "last opportunity" to engage in talks with the outside world.

North Korea has conducted four ballistic missile tests since Moon took office in May, vowing to use dialog as well as pressure to bring Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs under control.

This week, North Korea was a major topic in phone calls between Trump and the leaders of China and Japan, both of whom reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearised Korean Peninsula.

Trump has recently suggested he was running out of patience with China's efforts to pressure North Korea.

(Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim in SEOUL, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Elaine Lies in TOKYO, Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Ayesha Rascoe in WASHINGTON; Editing by Bill Tarrant, Robert Birsel)

PHOTOS: Dennis Rodman returns to North Korea:

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Dennis Rodman returns to North Korea
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Dennis Rodman returns to North Korea
Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman speaks to the media as he leaves for North Korea's Pyongyang, at Beijing Capital International Airport, China, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport as he leaves for North Korea's Pyongyang, in Beijing, China, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport as he leaves for North Korea's Pyongyang, in Beijing, China, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport as he leaves for North Korea's Pyongyang, in Beijing, China, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport as he leaves for North Korea's Pyongyang, in Beijing, China, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport as he leaves for North Korea's Pyongyang, in Beijing, China, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman (C) arrives at Pyongyang's international airport, North Korea in this photo taken by Kyodo on June on June 13, 2017. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
Former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman (C) arrives at Pyongyang's international airport, North Korea in this photo taken by Kyodo on June on June 13, 2017. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY.
Former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman (C) arrives at Pyongyang's international airport, North Korea in this photo taken by Kyodo on June on June 13, 2017. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
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