North Korea on Sunday test-launched a ballistic missile that flew for half an hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan, the South Korean, Japanese, and US militaries said. The launch, which Tokyo said could be of a new type of missile, is a direct challenge to the new South Korean president and comes as US, Japanese, and European navies gather for joint war games in the Pacific. It wasn't immediately clear what type of ballistic missile was launched, the seventh such firing this year, although the US Pacific Command said that "the flight is not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile." Japanese officials, however, said the missile flew for about 30 minutes, traveling about 500 miles and reaching an altitude of 1,240 miles—a flight pattern that could indicate a new type of missile, reports the AP.
One expert said that the missile could have a range of 2,800 miles if flown on a standard, instead of a lofted, trajectory—considerably longer than Pyongyang's current missiles. He said Sunday's launch may have been of a new mobile, two-stage liquid-fueled missile North Korea displayed in an April 15 military parade. Past North Korean missiles have flown farther than Sunday's test, landing closer to Japan, but this launch follows a series of high-profile failures. The White House said North Korea has been "a flagrant menace for far too long," and that Washington maintains its "ironclad commitment" to its allies. "The United States should never expect us to give up our nuclear capability," said the North in commentary carried by KCNA. It said President Trump's "maximum pressure" policy is only aimed at "stifling us." On Saturday, a top North Korean diplomat said Pyongyang would be willing to meet with the Trump administration "if the conditions are set." She did not elaborate. (Read more North Korea stories.)