North Korea said on Monday it had successfully tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile to confirm the reliability of the late-stage guidance of the warhead, indicating further advances in the ability to hit USA targets.
The rocket was sacked from an area near the North Korean county of Pukchang, in South Phyongan Province, and flew eastward about 310 miles, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. It claims one was a hydrogen bomb and the other device created a more powerful explosion than any the North has previous tested.
That would dramatically shorten the time available for any attempt to intervene and prevent a launch, requiring any such decision to be taken much more quickly.
The Korea Central News Agency said the test verified technical aspects of the weapon system and examined its "adaptability under various battle conditions" before it is deployed to military units.
KCNA said the objective of the test was to verify technical indexes of the weapon system and examine its adaptability under various battle conditions before deployment to military units for action.
It also tested the North's capability to carry a "large-size heavy nuclear warhead", KCNA said.
The rocket was sacked from an area near the North Korean county of Pukchang, in South Phyongan Province, and flew eastward about 500 kilometers (310 miles), said South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The rocket used a cold-launch system, KCNA said.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the country's military "is closely monitoring the North Korean military for any further provocation and maintaining readiness to respond".
But he added: "Our position is that the stable re-entry of the warhead needs more verification".
The two missile tests complicate plans by South Korea's new President Moon Jae-in to seek ways to reduce tension on the peninsula.
Pyongyang has long had missiles that can reach targets across South Korea and Japan but is accelerating efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States - something President Donald Trump has vowed "won't happen". "This is the DPRK's answer to the Trump administration'".
But so far Washington has opted for sanctions and diplomatic pressure, while looking to China, the North's closest ally, to help rein in Pyongyang.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Cho June-hyuck called the launch a reckless and irresponsible act that throws cold water on the government and the worldwide community's hopes of denuclearization.
We will remind, on may 22, DPRK announced the successful launch of Puchiko-2, which was first tested in February and is a land-based modification of the ballistic missile submarines (UAVs).