North Korea says it's ready to mass-produce new missile after latest test

Last Updated May 23, 2017 3:29 PM EDT

TOKYO -- North Korea said Monday it is ready to start mass-producing a new medium-range missile after a weekend test-launch confirmed its combat readiness.

It called the missile -- capable of reaching Japan and major U.S. military bases there -- an "answer" to President Trump's policies.

The solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile flew about 310 miles and reached a height of 350 miles on Sunday before plunging into the Pacific Ocean. North Korea's media said more missiles will be launched in the future.

The U.S., Japan and South Korea called for an urgent, closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea, that took place on Tuesday. On Monday, the U.N. Security Council condemned the launch in a statement and called North Korea's behavior highly destabilizing. 

"The members of the Security Council stressed that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's illegal ballistic missile activities are significantly contributing to its development of nuclear weapons delivery systems and are greatly increasing tension in the region and beyond," the statement said.

Diplomats expressed collective frustration that the sanctions imposed by the U.N. for 11 years have reaped little benefit and have not prevented the government of North Korea from advancing its nuclear program, CBS News' Pamela Falk reports. 

"All options are on the table," U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said from Jordan.

Japan's Ambassador Koro Bessho emerged from the urgent consultations Tuesday to send a stern message on North Korea, lamenting that a second meeting was called for another launch just one week after the last one.

"These provocations," Bessho said, "trample upon international efforts towards the peaceful solution of nuclear and missile issues and present an enormous global threat."

China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi spoke to a small group of reporters and said that the U.S. and China are discussing new sanctions but it will be up to all Council members to decide the best way forward.

"Dialogue," Liu said, "should take place because we can only resolve the issue through dialogue," adding that the history of efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula have occurred through talks. "It takes political will," Liu said.

France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said he hopes the council will move ahead on a strong new resolution that imposes tougher new sanctions against North Korea and requires better implementation of existing sanctions. He said a new resolution is being negotiated and council members are expected to discuss it during Tuesday's closed consultations.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the United Kingdom supports a statement condemning "the latest outrageous provocation" and "urgent work to bring the council together to impose additional measures."

South Korea held a National Security Council meeting after the launch, which its Foreign Ministry said "throws cold water" on efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula.  


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the intermediate-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2's launch test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).


Kim Jong Un ordered the launch and watched from an observation post, state media reported Monday. The Korea Central News Agency said the test verified technical aspects of the weapon system and examined its "adaptability under various battle conditions" before it is deployed to military units.

Kim reportedly said the launch was a success, "approved the deployment of this weapon system for action" and said that it should "be rapidly mass-produced."

North Korea has significantly speeded up its missile tests over the past year or so and appears to be making tangible progress toward developing an arsenal that poses a threat to South Korea and Japan -- which together host about 80,000 U.S. troops -- and developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland United States.

It's moving ahead with its nuclear weapons program as well.

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year. It claims one was a hydrogen bomb and the other device created a more powerful explosion than any it has previously tested. Satellite imagery suggests it could be ready to conduct its next test -- which would be its sixth -- at virtually any time.

North Korea's often-stated goal is to perfect a nuclear warhead that it can put on a missile capable of hitting Washington or other U.S. cities.

Its state media, meanwhile, have stepped up their calls for even more missile launches because of what the government says is an increasingly hostile policy from President Trump.

"The Trump administration would be well advised to lend an ear to the voices of concern that are heard from the U.S. and the international community," North Korea's Minju Joson newspaper said in a commentary Sunday. "Many more 'Juche weapons' capable of striking the U.S. will be launched from this land. This is the DPRK's answer to the Trump administration.'"

"Juche," in this usage, refers to domestically produced and DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the ongoing testing is "disappointing" and "disturbing."

North Korea a week earlier successfully tested a new midrange missile -- the Hwasong 12 -- that it said could carry a heavy nuclear warhead.

Experts said that rocket flew higher and for a longer time than any other missile previously tested by North Korea and represents another big advance toward a viable ICBM.

David Wright, an expert on North Korea's missiles and nuclear program with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the latest missile could have flown farther but was fired on a "lofted" trajectory, which sends the missile high up so that it will land in the open seas rather than flying over or splashing down near neighboring countries.

He noted the Pukguksong-2's solid fuel is of particular concern.

Solid-fuel missiles have their fuel loaded before being moved into place, allowing them to be launched faster and with more secrecy. Liquid-fuel missiles, on the other hand, are generally fueled at the launch site in a process that can last an hour and requires fueling and other vehicles. That makes them easier to spot and easier to destroy.