The United States has confirmed that the missile test-fired by North Korea on 4 July was the communist regime's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
In a statement issued that same day US secretary of state Rex Tillerson strongly condemned the launch, saying that "testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world".
"Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime," said Tillerson, emphasising that "global action" is required to stop what he described as a "global threat".
"All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons. We intend to bring North Korea's provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the [country] accountable," he added.
The secretary of state reiterated that Washington "seeks only the peaceful de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions by North Korea", pointing out that it "will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea".
In a separate statement the US Department of Defense (DoD) said that the ICBM launch, which triggered widespread international condemnation, "continues to demonstrate that North Korea poses a threat to the United States and our allies".
"We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies and to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat from North Korea," said DoD spokesperson Dana W White, reiterating that the US commitment to the defence of Japan and South Korea remains "ironclad".
South Korea's defence minister has said that he sees a high possibility of North Korea conducting a sixth nuclear test.
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