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North Korea confirms testing of ICBM in "surprise launching drill"

Pyongyang [North Korea], February 19 (ANI): North Korea confirmed that it tested the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on the previous day in a "surprise launching drill" and said that it is proof of the DPRK strategic nuclear force's consistent efforts to turn its capacity of "fatal nuclear counterattack" against hostile forces, KCNA Watch reported.

North Korea, on Saturday, fired a ballistic missile towards the sea off its east coast, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

In the official DPRK media output, North Korea said, "The surprise ICBM launching drill, conducted in the present situation under which the military threats of the US and South Korea are getting serious to the extent that can not be overlooked, is actual proof of the DPRK strategic nuclear force's consistent efforts to turn its capacity of fatal nuclear counterattack on the hostile forces into the irresistible one as well as a guarantee for and a clear proof of the sure reliability of our powerful physical nuclear deterrent."On Saturday, North Korea launched a new-type ICBM Hwasongpho-17. "The drill was suddenly organized without previous notice under an emergency firepower combat standby order given at dawn of February 18 and written order by the Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) at 8:00 am of the day," the media output said.

"Specified in the written order on launching drill carrying a personal signature of the respected Comrade Kim Jong Un were the contents that the First Red Flag Hero Company of the Missile General Bureau should be mobilized in a drill using ICBM Hwasongpho-15 and, through a sudden launching drill, the reliability of the weapon system should be re-confirmed and verified while getting the combat preparedness of the DPRK nuclear force recognized and proving confidence and guarantee for correct operation, reactivity, reliability, effectiveness and combat capability of the components of the state nuclear deterrence," it added.

Saturday's missile test comes ahead of the upcoming US-South Korea joint drills in Washington next week.

In comments published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's foreign ministry predicted the Korean Peninsula "will again be plunged into the grave vortex of escalating tension" if the US-South Korea drills go ahead, as per voice Of America (VOA).

"In case the US and South Korea carry into practice their already-announced plan for military drills ... they will face unprecedentedly persistent and strong counteractions," the statement said. (ANI)