Putin warns against 'intimidating' North Korea after missile test

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday observed the test launch of a new ballistic missile that can carry a large nuclear warhead and has the US mainland within striking range, state media claimed Monday.

In a unanimous statement backed by China, the council stressed the importance of North Korea "immediately showing honest commitment to denuclearization through concrete action".

The UN Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the North's latest missile launch, diplomats said.

USA officials had yet to react to the North's claim, but Japan said, regardless, the new test showed "some progress" in the isolated country's missile programme and was thus further evidence that "we have entered a new level of threat regarding North Korea".

On Sunday, North Korea test-launched a ballistic missile that flew, at a high trajectory, about 435 miles, according to South Korea's military.

The North's KCNA news agency said Sunday's launch tested its capability to carry a "large-size heavy nuclear warhead".

Russian President Vladimir Putin called North Korea's latest missile test "counter-productive, harmful and unsafe".

"It is considered an IRBM (intermediate range ballistic missile) of enhanced caliber compared to Musudan missiles that have continually failed", he said, referring to a class of missile created to travel up to 1,860 to 2,485 miles.

"The president expressed deep regret over the fact that this reckless provocation ... occurred just days after a new government was launched in South Korea", senior presidential secretary Yoon Young-chan said.

"I want to confirm that we are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear powers, including with the Korean Peninsula and North Korea", said Putin, who said any such move would be "harmful and unsafe".

But experts have long believed that manufacturing a compact warhead for a long-range missile capable of striking the United States is one of the last remaining technologies North Korea has yet to master.

The North attempted but failed to test-launch ballistic missiles four consecutive times in the past two months but has conducted a variety of missile testing since the beginning of a year ago at an unprecedented pace.

Last week, South Korean elected a new president, Mr Moon Jae-in, who advocates reconciliation with Pyongyang and said at his inauguration that he was willing "in the right circumstances" to visit the North to ease tensions.

North Korea conducted a ballistic missile test Sunday, its 10th this year alone.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told ABC's "This Week" that "having a missile test is not the way to sit down with the president, because he's absolutely not going to do it".

Some analysts, including officials in Tokyo, estimate that the May 14 launch successfully tested a new type of missile, potentially the longest in North Korea's arsenal.

The Security Council "strongly condemned the most recent ballistic missile launches" conducted by the DPRK on April 28 and May 13, the 15-nation UN body said in a press statement.

  • Joey Payne