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N. Korea says 2nd ICBM tested, U.S. now within strike range

North Korea confirmed Saturday its second launch of an
intercontinental ballistic missile, saying the test verified it now
has the ability to carry out a surprise attack on all parts of the
U.S. mainland.

The missile, fired late Friday night, traveled 998 kilometers,
flying for 47 minutes and 12 seconds and reaching an altitude of
3,724.9 km, North Korea said through its official media.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who observed the test, was
quoted by the Korean Central News Agency as saying it demonstrated
the country's ability to conduct a surprise ICBM launch "in any
region and place any time, and clearly proved that the whole U.S.
mainland is in the firing range of (its) missiles."

Using a highly lofted trajectory, North Korea simulated the
ICBM's maximum range and also succeeded in reconfirming necessary
technical features of its warhead tip at the time of atmospheric
re-entry, KCNA said.

Kim, who signed the order for the test on Thursday, said it was
meant to send a "grave warning to the United States making senseless
remarks," according to the news agency.

As it did in its first-ever ICBM test earlier in the month,
North Korea fired the missile into the sea in Japan's direction. This
time, however, it was launched from a new location and unusually late
at night, with a longer flight distance and a higher altitude.

The missile fell about 150 km northwest of Okushiri, a small
island situated some 18 km off the coast of Hokkaido, the
northernmost of Japan's main islands, according to the country's
Defense Ministry.

The flight distance and the altitude announced by North Korea
are roughly in line with initial assessments made public by Japanese,
South Korean and U.S. officials.

David Wright, a missile expert at the Union of Concerned
Scientists, wrote on the group's website that the missile could have
reached Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago, if fired at a normal
trajectory.

"If those numbers are correct, flown on a standard trajectory
the missile would have a range 10,400 km, not taking into account the
Earth's rotation," Wright said.

U.S. President Donald Trump called the second ICBM test in less
than a month by North Korea a "reckless and dangerous action" and
dismissed the country's claim that such weapons tests ensure its
security.

"In reality, they have the opposite effect," Trump said in a
statement. "By threatening the world, these weapons and tests further
isolate North Korea, weaken its economy, and deprive its people."

Japanese officials said the missile was launched with no prior
notification and fell into waters within Japan's exclusive economic
zone, but that no damage to any vessel or aircraft has been reported.

"This is a serious and real threat to our country's security,"
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters at his office,
after convening a National Security Council meeting shortly after the
launch. "We strongly protest against North Korea and condemn this in
the strongest words."

"As long as North Korea continues with this kind of provocative
action, there is no other choice than collaborating closely with the
United States and South Korea, as well as with countries including
China and Russia, and the international community, and further
strengthening the pressure," Abe said.

South Korea's military said the ballistic missile was launched
around 11:41 p.m. South Korean time from the vicinity of Mupyong-ri,
Jagang Province. North Korea has never before launched a long-range
missile from this area.

Speculation had been rife in recent days that it was preparing
for another missile test around Kusong in its northwest following
recent satellite-based information.

North Korea's official broadcaster, as well as its leading
newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, carried numerous images of the second test,
showing the missile lifting off in darkness and a beaming Kim at the
scene with his aides.

The launch came a day after the 64th anniversary of the signing
of the armistice that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War, which is
celebrated as "victory" day in what North Korea calls the "Fatherland
Liberation War" against the U.S.-led U.N. and South Korean forces.

Following a string of weapons tests in recent years, North Korea
conducted its first test-firing of an ICBM on July 4, declaring it a
"gift" to the United States on that country's Independence Day
holiday.

The latest missile test is the first since then and marks North
Korea's 11th ballistic missile launch this year.

It took place as the international community remains split on
how best to rein in the North Korean leader.

The United States, along with Japan and South Korea, is trying
to encourage China to play a more active role in getting North Korea
to change course.

But China, though by far North Korea's largest trading partner,
is traditionally against taking unilateral measures apart from the
framework of the U.N. Security Council and stepping up pressure on
North Korea.

In its first official reaction to the second ICBM test, nearly
12 hours after the launch, China basically repeated its position.

While expressing opposition to the test and urging North Korea
to abide by all pertinent U.N. Security Council resolutions, Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a brief statement that
all sides should "act prudently and prevent the situation from
escalating."

Top military leaders of South Korea and the United States spoke
by phone and "discussed military response options," a spokesman for
chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, said
in a statement.

Despite being faced with multiple sanctions by the international
community, North Korea has shown no signs of giving up its desire to
develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of traveling as far as the
U.S. mainland.

North Korea is banned from any nuclear or missile tests by the
United Nations, but Kim has said he will continue to boost its
nuclear forces until Washington ends its "hostile" policy toward
Pyongyang.

When Kim attended his country's first ICBM test, he was quoted
as urging scientists to "frequently send big and small gift packages"
to the United States.

In its first ICMB test, a long-range missile named Hwasong-14,
which also had a highly lofted trajectory, reached an altitude of
2,802 km and flew about 933 km for 39 minutes. (July 29)