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North Korea vows to complete nuke program after latest missile

[PYONGYANG] North Korea said it will complete its nuclear program in the face of heightened United Nations sanctions after the isolated nation on Friday fired a second intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan.

Leader Kim Jong Un claimed his nuclear program is nearly complete despite a series of sanctions by the UN Security Council and his final goal is to build "the equilibrium of real force" with the US and prevent military action against Pyongyang, the Korean Central News Agency said Saturday. Mr Kim personally guided the launch of the latest Hwasong-12 missile, it said.

The test was aimed at "calming down the belligerence of the US" and "confirming action procedures of actual war," the state-run agency said in a statement.

The test was North Korea's second missile over Japan in as many months. The missile flew over Hokkaido and successfully hit its target in the Pacific Ocean, KCNA said.

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The rogue state conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept 3. It has launched more than a dozen missiles this year as Kim's regime seeks the capability to hit the continental US with an atomic weapon. President Donald Trump has said all options - including military - are on the table to stop North Korea from threatening the US.

Earlier in the week, the Security Council tightened sanctions after the US dropped key demands such as an oil embargo to win support from Russia and China. The resolution seeks to cut imports of refined petroleum products to 2 million barrels a year, ban textile exports and strengthen inspections of ships that are believed to be carrying cargo in breach of sanctions.

The US should cease threats against North Korea and do more to resolve the crisis, China's ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai told reporters in Washington Friday. China will never recognize North Korea as a nuclear state and opposes nuclear weapons anywhere on the Korean peninsula, he said.South Korea estimated the latest North Korean missile reached an altitude of 770 kilometers and traveled 3,700 kilometers - further than the 3,400 kilometers from Pyongyang to Guam.

In August, North Korea threatened that it planned to test fire four intermediate-range missiles into waters near Guam, a US territory with military bases, but said later it would wait and see how the US behaved before carrying out the plan.