Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

North Korea Missile Program Advancing Faster Than Expected, South's Defense Minister Says

North Korea Missile Program Advancing Faster Than Expected, South's Defense Minister Says

A closed-door emergency Council session was set for tomorrow.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), which became operational earlier this month in South Korea, aims to destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles amid growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

North Korea has maintained that the missile test was in response to the nuclear dangers and threats posed by the US and its allies.

The reclusive North, which has defied all calls to rein in its weapons programs, has been working on a missile, mounted with a nuclear warhead, capable of striking the USA mainland.

North Korea said Monday that it successfully test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile the previous day which it says can carry a heavy nuclear warhead, claiming that the USA mainland is within its striking range.

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo told parliament that Sunday's test-launch was "successful in flight".

"To that end, the Security Council demanded the Democratic People's Republic of Korea conduct no further nuclear and ballistic missile tests", the council said, adding that it was ready to impose further sanctions on the country.

The UN Security Council first imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006 and has strengthened the measures in response to its five nuclear tests and two long-range rocket launches.

According to the South China Morning Post, analysts said that the UN Security Council would likely discuss the new sanctions, with China possibly playing a role in their formation.

His remarks are seen as hinting at another nuclear explosion or a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) under development.

A day before, North Korea fired off a missile that landed in the sea near Russian Federation.

The North has made no secret of its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States - something President Donald Trump has vowed "won't happen".

Asked if North Korea's missile program was developing faster than the South had expected, he said: "Yes".

KCNA cited Kim as saying the North would never succumb to what it called the "highly ridiculous" U.S. strategy of "militarily browbeating only weak countries and nations which have no nukes".

There's also skepticism about North Korea's claims about its re-entry technology, which is needed to return a warhead to the atmosphere from space so it can hit its intended target.

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