Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:43AM
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (R) and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at UN headquarters in New York City on January 27, 2017 (Photo by Reuters)
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (R) and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at UN headquarters in New York City on January 27, 2017 (Photo by Reuters)

The United Nations Security Council has announced an emergency meeting to discuss North Korea’s recent launch of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile.

The United States, Japan, and South Korea on Sunday requested the meeting on an “urgent basis.”

North Korea launched the missile near the western city of Kusong on Sunday. It flew east about 500 kilometers before falling into the Sea of Japan, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) later on Monday confirmed that Pyongyang had “successfully” tested a “surface-to-surface medium long-range ballistic missile.”

The North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, “expressed great satisfaction over the possession of another powerful nuclear attack means, which adds to the tremendous might of the country,” the KCNA said.

A man watches North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on a TV screen in the South Korean capital, Seoul, February 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The missile was reportedly powered by a solid-fuel engine. Thus, it requires a far shorter refueling time than conventional liquid fuel-powered missiles, said Yun Duk-min of the state-run Institute for Foreign Affairs and Security in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

He said such missiles “leave little warning time and therefore pose greater threat to opponents.” They are also harder to detect before launch by satellite surveillance, he added.

The launch has concerned Japan and South Korea and their ally the United States. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was visiting US President Donald Trump in Florida when the launch occurred, called the test “absolutely intolerable.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and US President Donald Trump speak at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, February 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Trump reacted to the test only by saying that the US stood behind Japan, “its great ally, 100 percent.”

South Korea, too, has condemned the test.

North Korea faces international pressure to abandon its arms development and nuclear program. Yet, it says the programs aim to protect the country from US hostilities.

The US has military forces in South Korea and is planning to deploy an advanced missile system there in response to perceived threats from the North. The US also occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.