United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Picture: REUTERS
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Picture: REUTERS

New York — The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday after North Korea said it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, diplomats said.

The US — which confirmed it was an intercontinental ballistic missile launch — backed by Japan and South Korea, requested the urgent meeting, which is scheduled for 3pm in New York, or 7pm GMT.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the launch of the Hwasong-14 missile, which experts say is capable of reaching Alaska.

North Korea’s Academy of Defence Science said it reached an altitude of 2,802km and flew 933km.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the launch, warning that it "constitutes a dangerous escalation of the situation".

US Pacific Command confirmed the test and said it was a land-based, intermediate-range missile that flew for 37 minutes before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.

It said the launch did not pose a threat to North America.

But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later confirmed the missile launched was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The launch came as Americans prepared to mark Independence Day, prompting President Donald Trump to urge China to act to "end this nonsense once and for all".

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Tuesday spoke by phone with China’s ambassador Liu Jieyi, who holds the council presidency this month, to convey the US request for an urgent meeting, diplomats said.

Guterres stressed the importance of a united approach to addressing the North Korean crisis.

China, Pyongyang’s main ally, is pushing for talks between world powers and North Korea on dismantling the nuclear programme.

The US maintains Pyongyang must first halt its missile launches and nuclear test.

North Korea is barred under UN resolutions from developing missile and nuclear technology.

The UN Security Council adopted two sanctions resolutions last year to ramp up pressure on Pyongyang, and last month added 14 North Korean officials and four entities to the sanctions blacklist.


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