A TV news shows an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un while reporting North Korea's missile test which landed in the waters of Japan's economic zone in Tokyo, July 4, 2017.
A TV news shows an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un while reporting North Korea's missile test which landed in the waters of Japan's economic zone in Tokyo, July 4, 2017.

North Korea said Tuesday it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The country has long sought that capability as it works to develop the technology necessary to send a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.

An announcement on state television said the missile flew for 39 minutes and reached an altitude of 2,800 kilometers.

Those numbers are about the same as figures given by the U.S., South Korean and Japanese militaries shortly after the test that ended with the missile falling into the Sea of Japan.

This image made from video of a news bulletin aire
This image made from video of a news bulletin aired by North Korea's KRT on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, shows what was said to be the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM, in North Korea's northwest.

The U.S. military's Pacific Command described the missile involved as an intermediate range ballistic missile.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his government assumed it to be a "medium long-range ballistic missile" but would still prepare in case it were an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

"If it is ICBM, we will need to come up with the corresponding measures," Moon said.  He added that South Korea will "resolutely deal with North Korean provocations" in cooperation with the international community.

China calls for restraint

China's Foreign Ministry called for calm and restraint after Tuesday's launch.

U.S. President Donald Trump's response to the missile test came on Twitter where he renewed his calls for China to use its position as North Korea's main ally to exert influence.

"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!" Trump wrote.

China defended its efforts, calling for calm and restraint Tuesday while saying it has opposed North Korean activities that violate U.N. Security Council sanctions.

"China has made many efforts for the solution of the Korean peninsula nuclear issues," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a tribal
FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the White House.

Trump mulls options

The U.S. leader has said in the past that all options, including military force, are available to combat threats from North Korea.

The White House said Sunday that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed in a phone call their "commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also discussed the North Korean threat in a phone call with Trump, said Tuesday he plans to call on Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin to "play a more constructive role."

"North Korea has once again pushed through with the launch of another ballistic missile, ignoring repeated warnings from the international community," Abe said.  "Japan will work to increase international pressure on North Korea by uniting strongly with the U.S. and South Korea."

North Korea Nuclear Program

Missile trajectory

David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists said if Tuesday's test launch was done at a normal trajectory and not almost straight up, then by his calculations it would have a range of about 6,700 kilometers, or enough to technically qualify as an ICBM.

"That range missile would allow North Korea to reach all of Alaska but would not allow it to reach the lower 48 states or the main Hawaiian islands. But it is a considerable increase over missiles we’ve seen them launch before, and I think what it says is that North Korea is continuing to move forward with its ability to make longer and longer range missiles," Wright told VOA.

North Korea said Tuesday it successfully test-laun
North Korea said Tuesday it successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which flew 933 km reaching an altitude of 2,802 km. One independent analyst suggests the missile could reach a maximum range of around 6,700 km.

He said if North Korea is allowed to continue on its current path of development, it could have an ICBM capable of reaching the continental U.S. in a couple of years. 

"Increasing sanctions are likely to put pressure on North Korea but I don’t think they are going to stop the missile program. It’s been clear I think even to the Trump administration that there are not good military options," Wright said.  "We don’t know where the things are we’d like to hit, and any attack on North Korea would almost certainly lead to destruction of Seoul in South Korea. And so what that leads you to is to basically say that the United States really needs to engage North Korea at the negotiating table."