North Korea has risked provoking a confrontation with the US after it claimed a rocket it fired on Tuesday was its first intercontinental ballistic missile launch.
The isolated Asian nation earlier in the day launched a rocket off its east coast, which flew for about 40 minutes and reached a high point of more than 2,500km – developments that prompted some analysts to surmise it was an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching Alaska.
North Korea later claimed through its official broadcaster that it was an intercontinental missile.
If confirmed as such, the launch on the eve of America’s July 4 Independence Day celebrations risks escalating tensions with US President Donald Trump, who earlier vowed such a test “won’t happen.”
Pyongyang has for months claimed such capabilities but has never successfully tested an ICBM. Mr Trump earlier in the day exhorted the leaders of China and Japan to to heap pressure on Pyongyang.
North Korea was top of the agenda during phone calls made by Mr Trump just 24 hours earlier with China’s Xi Jinping and Japan’s Shinzo Abe, who reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearised Korean peninsula.