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(2nd LD) U.S. determines N. Korean missile launch as ICBM test: report

2017/07/05 03:26

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(ATTN: UPDATES with CNN report; CHANGES headline)

WASHINGTON, July 4 (Yonhap) -- The United States has determined that North Korea's latest missile launch was highly likely a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile as claimed by the communist nation, a news report said Tuesday.

The assessment came after an unexpected meeting of U.S. national security, military and diplomatic officials, CNN reported. That runs counter to an initial assessment by the U.S. Pacific Command that it was an intermediate-range missile.

The report cited unidentified officials saying they're highly confident it was probably an ICBM.

If confirmed, the ICBM test would put the North much closer to perfecting capabilities to strike the continental U.S. with a nuclear weapon and send the already high tensions with the North soaring higher.

Earlier in the day, a State Department official said the launch was still being assessed.

"We're working with our Interagency partners on a more detailed assessment," the official said in response to a request for comment on the North's missile launch earlier in the day. The official didn't elaborate.

After launching a ballistic missile earlier Tuesday, the North claimed it succeeded in its first ICBM test, with the missile soaring as high as about 2,800 kilometers before landing at an East Sea target 930 kilometers away.

Officials in South Korea and Japan gave similar altitude and distance figures, raising the possibility that the North's claims could be true, though the U.S. Pacific Command initially identified the North's missile as an intermediate-range class.

The U.S. government hasn't issued an official response to the launch yet, though President Donald Trump lamented the provocation in a Twitter posting late Monday.

"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," Trump tweeted. "Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"

   jschang@yna.co.kr

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