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North Korea: New long-range missile can carry heavy nuke

"The test-fire aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead", KCNA said.

Mr Kim warned the United States "should not disregard or misjudge the reality that its mainland and Pacific operation region are in [North Korea's] sighting range for strike".

However, the USA military's Pacific Command said the type of missile that was sacked was "not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile".

The missile flew four minutes longer than any previous ballistic missile test in the history of the communist regime, USA officials told Fox News, though North Korea had conducted space launches in the past that have flown longer than KN-17 - including a mission in February 2016 that sent a satellite into orbit on Super Bowl Sunday.

Kim's regime says it aims to field a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland.

Earlier on Sunday, the United States and Japan called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council after the latest missile test, diplomats said.

"The president said we are leaving open the possibility of dialogue with North Korea, but we should sternly deal with a provocation to prevent North Korea from miscalculating", he added.

The launch, which Tokyo said could be of a new type of missile, is a direct challenge to the new South Korean president elected four days ago and comes as U.S., Japanese and European navies gather for joint war games in the Pacific.

South Korea's military said more information is needed to verify the technical aspects of the missile, but it added that Pyongyang seems to have yet to master missile technology for "atmospheric reentry", a key element in developing an ICBM.

North Korea's missile test on Sunday was the country's most successful yet, according to analysts, who say Pyongyang may now have a weapon capable of hitting a key U.S. military base in the Pacific.

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"We consider (the missile test) counter-productive, harmful and unsafe", Putin said.

Past North Korean missiles have flown farther than Sunday's test, landing closer to Japan, but this launch follows a series of high-profile failures.

Washington was far more concerned with North Korea's missile launch that landed close to Vladivostok than was Moscow. North Korea has also launched satellites into orbit on long-range rockets that share some of the same technology as missiles.

North Korea launched two missiles in October previous year from an air base in Kusong on North Korea's west coast, on the other side of the country from the usual intermediate-range Musudan test site near Wonsan, on the east coast.

The Security Council has adopted six increasingly tougher sanctions resolutions against North Korea. Though the latest launch was still a long shot away from the long-anticipated ICBM projected to carry a nuclear warhead to the U.S. or Australia, it was a vast improvement on two recent damp squib tests.

Though it also called for a "credible dialogue" with the worldwide community, NATO said North Korea should "cease all activities related to its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes" and "abandon all existing weapons of mass destruction programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner".

"We will conduct ICBM tests anytime and anywhere in accordance with the decisions made by our central leadership", North Korea's ambassador to China Ji Jae Ryong said at an impromptu press conference at the country's embassy in Beijing Monday.

People watch a news programme showing a graphic of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on Sunday.

The missile was launched on an unusually high trajectory, with KCNA saying it flew to an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometres and travelled 787 kilometres before coming down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

But analysts say that North Korea's weapons program is likely too far advanced for him to be able to return to the type of sunshine policies his liberal predecessors favored.

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