North Korea claimed to have successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Tuesday, appearing to be the most successful missile test to date.
President Donald Trump had earlier stated a test like this would not happen, but a U.S. scientist who examined the height and distance of the missile said it has the potential to have enough power to reach Alaska.
North Korea's Academy of Defense Science said the test of an ICBM is the "final step" in their quest to create a “confident and powerful nuclear state that can strike anywhere on Earth.”
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga would not comment on whether Japan believes it was actually an ICBM, and South Korea's Defense Ministry is also verifying North Korea's statement.
According to U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials, the missile flew for about 40 minutes, reached a height of 1,500 miles, and covered a distance of 580 miles. If true, the missile would have gone the highest and longest than any other missile North Korea previously tested.
Russia's military believes the missile flew much shorter and lower.
“In capability of missile terms and delivery, it is a major step up and they seem to be making progress week-on-week," Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of the British Armed Forces Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Regiment, said.
Trump responded on Twitter and said, "North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
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
....and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2017
China's foreign ministry did step in Tuesday, urging North Korea "to stop taking actions that violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.”
And Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also responded with criticism. "“The latest launch clearly showed that the threat is growing,” he said.
The missile test comes days after Trump and the newly elected South Korean president Moon Jae-in had their first face-to-face meeting.
North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth atomic bomb tests last year, with the nuclear test in September the most powerful to date.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.