SEOUL, South Korea — In its latest effort to develop its ballistic and nuclear weapons, North Korea fired a medium-range missile Sunday that appeared to be similar to one the country tested earlier this year, U.S. and South Korean officials said.
The rocket was fired from an area near the North Korean county of Pukchang, in South Phyongan Province, and flew eastward about 310 miles, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The U.S. Pacific Command said it tracked the missile before it fell into the sea.
White House officials traveling in Saudi Arabia with President Donald Trump said the system that was tested had a shorter range than the missiles fired in North Korea's most recent tests.
The missile appeared to be similar in range and maximum altitude to the missile that North Korea test-fired in February, an official from South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The missile launched on Sunday reached an altitude of 347 miles, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office rules.
The February test involved using a launch truck to fire a solid-fuel missile that North Korea calls the Pukguksong (Polaris)-2, a land-based version of a submarine-launched missile the country revealed earlier.
The February launch, the North's first missile test after Trump took office, alarmed neighbors because solid-fuel missiles can be fired faster than liquid-fuel missiles, which need to be fueled before launch and require a larger number of vehicles, including fuel trucks. Those vehicles could be spotted by satellites.
In an interview with Fox News Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it was too early to know whether diplomatic and economic pressures being exerted on the North Korean government are having an impact.
"We're early in the stages of applying the economic pressure as well as the diplomatic pressure to the regime in North Korea," Tillerson said. "Hopefully they will get the message that the path of continuing their nuclear arms program is not a pathway to security or certainly prosperity. The ongoing testing is disappointing. It's disturbing."
South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, held a National Security Council meeting to discuss Sunday's launch, which came hours after he named his new foreign minister nominee and top advisers for security and foreign policy. He did not make a public statement after the meeting.
In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch a "challenge to the world" that tramples international efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear and missile problems peacefully. He vowed to bring up the issue at this week's G-7 summit in Italy.
At the United Nations, diplomats from the U.S., Japan and South Korea said they requested a Security Council consultation on the missile test. The closed discussion will take place today. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting had not been officially announced.
The launch came a week after North Korea successfully tested a new midrange missile 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 that it could one day reach targets as far away as Hawaii and Alaska.