North Korea releases pictures missile launch and Korean peninsula from space

North Korean state media has released photographs it says were taken from its biggest missile launch since 2017.

The pictures show parts of the Korean peninsula and surrounding areas seen from space.

North Korea said the ballistic missile was an intermediate range Hwasong-12.

South Korea and Japan said it reached an altitude of 2,000km before landing in waters off Japan. Both countries have condemned the launch, the seventh test this month.

The photographs, released by the North Korean state news agency, KCNA, were reportedly taken from a camera fitted to the missile’s test warhead.

Two of the images show the moment of launch and the other apparently shows the missile in mid-flight, taken from above.

Japanese and South Korean officials estimated that the missile flew for 30 minutes to a distance of 800km.

The UN prohibits North Korea from ballistic and nuclear weapons tests, and has imposed strict sanctions.

But the East Asian state regularly defies the ban, and leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to bolster his country’s defences.

A senior United States official called on North Korea to join direct talks about its nuclear and missile programmes with no preconditions, Reuters reported.

“We believe it is completely appropriate and completely correct to start having some serious discussions,” the official said.

The US earlier called on North Korea to “refrain from further destabilising acts”.

North Korean missile tests are typically announced the following day by the country’s state-run media.

On Monday, KCNA said the missile had been launched to “verify its accuracy”. Mr Kim was reportedly not present.

It was launched to “the highest angle firing system from the north-western area to the East Sea of Korea in consideration of the security of the neighbouring countries”, the agency added.