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North Korea carries out second intercontinental missile test

North Korea has test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew longer and higher than the first.

Leading analysts said that a wide swathe of the US including Los Angeles and Chicago is now within range of Pyongyang's weapons.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the missile, launched late on Friday night, flew for about 45 minutes - about five minutes longer than the ICBM North Korea test-fired on July 4.

"We assess that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, as had been expected," Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said in Washington.

The missile was launched on a very high trajectory, which limited the distance it travelled, and landed west of Japan's island of Hokkaido.

Analysts estimated that the missile tested on July 4 could have reached Alaska, and said that the latest missile appeared to extend that range significantly.

David Wright, a physicist and co-director of the global security programme at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in Washington that if reports of the missile's maximum altitude and flight time are correct, it would have a theoretical range of about 6,500 miles.

That means it could have reached Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago, depending on variables such as the size and weight of the warhead that would be carried on such a missile in an actual attack.

Bruce Klingner, a Korean and Japanese affairs specialist at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, said, "It now appears that a significant portion of the continental United States is within range" of North Korean missiles.

Mr Klingner recently met with North Korean officials to discuss denuclearisation, the think tank said.

Washington and its allies have watched with growing concern as Pyongyang has made significant progress toward its goal of having all of the US within range of its missiles to counter what it labels as US aggression. The progress it has made toward producing nuclear warheads to fit on those missiles is less clear.

President Donald Trump has said he will not allow North Korea to obtain an ICBM that can deliver a nuclear warhead.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch a "serious and real threat" to the country's security.

Mr Suga said Japan has lodged a strong protest with North Korea.

"North Korea's repeated provocative acts absolutely cannot be accepted," he said.

Mr Abe said Japan would cooperate closely with the US, South Korea and other nations to step up pressure on North Korea to halt its missile programmes. Repeated rounds of sanctions from the UN Security Council, however, have yet to deter the North.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile reached an estimated height of 2,300 miles before landing at sea about 625 miles away. It appeared to be more advanced than the ICBM North Korea previously launched, it said.

AP

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