North Korea has test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of striking anywhere in the entire US, according to its official news agency.
Kim Jong Un, the leader of the pariah nation, was present at the missile launch last night, the agency said.
In a written statement US President Donald Trump said it was “only the latest reckless and dangerous action by the North Korean regime.”
He added: “The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.”
A missile capable of hitting the US would, if confirmed, likely add further to international tensions in one of the most sensitive areas of foreign policy.
In January Trump said on Twitter that the North Korean development of a missile capable of reaching the US “won’t happen”.
North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
In its report the English-language Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said: “The test-fire reconfirmed the reliability of ICBM system, demonstrated the capability of making surprise launch of ICBM in any region and place any time, and clearly proved that the whole US mainland is in the firing range of the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] missiles, he [Kim Jong Un] said with pride.”
Tensions between North Korea and the US have mounted since Donald Trump took office as President. Trump this month asked on Twitter if Kim Jong Un has “anything better to do with his life?” after a previous missile test.
North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2017
Tackling North Korea has become a central foreign policy issue for Trump as he has become aware of the state’s efforts to create a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the US. It has already tested explosives which are believed to have been nuclear devices by South Korean observers.
In April Trump attempted to enlist the efforts of Chinese President Xi Jinping to put pressure on the nation.
China is one of North Korea’s only allies, although some analysts believe it has grown frustrated with the repeated efforts of its smaller neighbour to goad the US. It also wants to avoid a crisis on its border if the situation flares up.
China said it opposed North Korea's "launch activities that run counter to Security Council resolutions and the common wishes of the international community", according to Reuters.