N. Korea's new missile could be deployable by 2018

N. Korea's new missile could be deployable by 2018

The idea of a naval blockade was seemingly endorsed by Defense Minister Song Young-moo when addressing lawmakers in the wake of the North's latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test on Wednesday. Possessing a tested nuclear weapon could mean that the old rules of engagement in diplomacy with North Korea may no longer work.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un is seen as the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15's test was successfully launched, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 30, 2017.

But South Korea said it expected Pyongyang to now pause its provocative missile testing programme, after the success of its new Hwasong-15 missile that can fly far enough to hit the USA mainland.

South Korean President Moon told his USA counterpart that while Pyongyang's latest missile launch reflects its most advanced technology so far, it still lacks critical technology that would actually make its nuclear and missile weapons development complete. The missile technology tested remains unproven and that "the task we face is to completely prevent North Korea from futher advancing its nuclear technologies", Moon was quoted by a spokesperson in Yonhap. "He will probably make a great announcement in his new year's address that the North has completed its weapons programme", he said.

The drills will mark the first time that six of the stealth fighters fly over South Korea at once, according to the report.

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"We must prevent a situation in which North Korea misjudges the situation and blackmails us with nuclear weapons or in which the USA contemplates a preemptive strike", Moon said during a full session of the National Security Council (NSC) over which he presided on the day of North Korea's missile test launch.

"For now if there are no sudden changes in situation or external factors, we feel there is a high chance North Korea will refrain from engaging in provocations for a while", said Lee Yoo-jin, deputy spokeswoman at the Unification Ministry.

The ICBM, launched yesterday from Sain Ni, North Korea, travelled about 1000 km before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It's also considerably larger than North Korea's previous ICBM, the Hwasong-14, and created to deliver larger warheads, the ministry said. In partial contrast, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Beijing is doing a lot but could do more to limit oil supplies to Pyongyang.

Trump and Moon pledged to continue applying strong sanctions and pressure on North Korea to bring it to talks.

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously imposed a set of sanctions against North Korea on September 11 over the country's hydrogen bomb test which was conducted on September 3.