Three days after Washington warned of “serious consequences” for any provocations by Pyongyang, North Korea said Tuesday it had conducted a successful test of a hypersonic ballistic missile.
“The test was successful and our country is now in the final stages of a phase of operational deployment of Hwasong-15’s rockets,” the North’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Based on photos obtained by NBC News, it appears to have launched the missile from a mobile launcher.
The North Korean foreign ministry’s statement follows comments by President Donald Trump who told a press conference that “we have many options to solve the problem.”
“We will solve the problem without solving the problem.”
Speaking at the White House, Trump said he hopes China will help, but said Washington would protect its allies.
In a statement Tuesday, China’s foreign ministry denied North Korea was testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, saying there was no “a seismic or other technical data” to show such a test was done.
North Korea has ramped up missile and nuclear tests in recent years, sending tensions soaring with its regional neighbors and the United States.
North Korea claims to have developed an ICBM capable of striking the US mainland and has also carried out its sixth nuclear test last month.
Still, a Pentagon spokesman insisted that the US military would continue to support its South Korean and Japanese allies by conducting “a range of … defense measures.”
“Based on our existing capabilities and plans, we continue to maintain a robust offensive, standoff defense posture across the region,” he said.
Earlier this month, a senior US military official told CNN that Washington believes it is one or two years away from being able to hit back at North Korea using conventional weapons.
At a meeting with defense ministers from seven North East Asian countries, Trump said the US would continue work with its allies in the region, but would take unilateral actions should China fail to do more.
“We will not stand for that. We have no choice,” he said.
“China must do much more to help us with North Korea. They are not doing enough. We will all be better off if China helps us. It could happen!”