Suspected NKorea drone photographed US missile-defense site

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This article appears consistent with remarks made by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during his New Year's address this year, when he said that "preparations for the test launch of an ICBM are in their final stage". The North's claims could not be independently confirmed.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis warned USA lawmakers Monday that North Korea poses the most urgent threat to global peace and security.

Michael Elleman, senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, says the need to ideal the two models of IRBMs North Korea is now working on before moving on to ICBM technology was like "learning to walk before trying to run".

The launch came days after USA aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan left those waters after joint exercises with the South Korean navy.

Seoul agreed past year to deploy the missile interceptor system to guard against threats from nuclear-armed North Korea, despite angry opposition from China - which believes THAAD could undermine its own military capabilities.

Last Friday, the U.N. Security Council adopted a fresh sanctions resolution that will add 14 North Korean individuals and four entities to its blacklist.

THAAD's deployment has been a polarizing issue for most of the region.

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Experts have consistently warned, however, that North Korea is slowly but surely working toward developing an ICBM.

It is believed to be similar in size and shape to a North Korean drone found in 2014 on a nearby island. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the soldier was being questioned about the reasons for his defection.

New Zealand gave about $NZ215,000 ($206,000) in aid for North Korean humanitarian programs over the past eight years, only halting the yearly fund due to concerns about the rogue state's missile tests.

Japan wants South Korea to remove a statue near the Japanese consulate in Busan city commemorating Korean comfort women as well as another near the Japanese embassy in Seoul, saying that the presence of the statues violate the 2015 agreement. But the commentary said his regime is "following the USA moves to stifle the DPRK". The two other fishermen, who wanted to return home, were repatriated on Friday.

It marked the fifth missile test-fire by Pyongyang since the South's liberal President Moon Jae-in took office in May.

USA forces have deployed the THAAD missile defence system to the North's neighbours South Korea in a bid to spook Kim.

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