North Korea has announced that it successfully launched its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in a test on Thursday.
It marked the first time the country had tested a banned ICBM since 2017.
ICBMs are long-range missiles, capable of reaching the US. N Korea is banned from testing them and has been heavily sanctioned for doing so before.
State media said leader Kim Jong-un directly guided the test and the weapon was key to deterring nuclear war.
The Hwasong-17 ICBM was first unveiled in 2020 at a military parade where its colossal size surprised even seasoned analysts of the country’s arsenal.
Ankit Panda from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called Thursday’s launch a “significant milestone” for North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
“This test was long telegraphed and continues North Korea’s efforts to improve its nuclear deterrent,” he told the BBC.
“It is the largest missile in North Korea’s inventory and may one day carry multiple warheads.”
Thursday’s missile launch was tracked by militaries in Japan and South Korea – Japanese officials said it flew to an altitude of 6,000 km (3,728 miles) and fell in Japanese waters after flying for more than an hour.
Its altitude surpasses that of a previous missile – the Hwasong-15 – which reached an altitude of 4,500km (2,800 miles) in a series of tests carried out by North Korea in 2017.
Experts estimated the Hwasong-15, if it had been fired on a standard trajectory, could have travelled more than 13,000km (8,080 miles), placing any part of the continental United States within reach.
The new missile would be able to travel higher and further than this.