Suspected N.Korea drone photographed United States missile defense site

But how close North Korea really is, and how great a threat the reclusive state actually poses to the USA, remains a matter of debate.

'The feeling uneasy as this might be proven in practice.

"Trump blustered early this year that the DPRK's final access to a nuclear weapon that can reach the U.S. mainland will never happen", the Monday editorial states.

"But recent strategic weapon tests have proved the country is "not far away" from testing an ICBM".

The call comes at a time when United Nations sanctions have been increased on North Korea for its campaign of firing missiles that heighten tensions with its neighbor South Korea and Japan.

It added: "The DPRK is about 10,400 km far away from NY, but this is just not a long distance for a strike today".

Earlier this year, after North Korea announced that "final stage in preparations" were underway for a long-range missile test, Trump tweeted that he wouldn't let it happen on his watch, declaring emphatically "It won't happen!".

North Korea's advancing missile and nuclear programmes are the "most urgent and dangerous" threat to United States national security, U.S. defence secretary Jim Mattis said.

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The US recently tested a defence system that it said successfully intercepted and destroyed a mock ICBM. The THAAD system is created to intercept short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles at the terminal incoming stage.

The reason for Japan's readiness isn't clear at this moment, nor is the reason for their belief that North Korea would intentionally launch atomic weapons at them without cause.

North Korea often accuses South Korea of kidnapping its citizens or enticing them to defect to the South.

Earlier that month, Pyongyang said it had successfully tested the Pukguksong-2 intermediate range ballistic missile, after a projectile was detected landing in worldwide waters off Japan's east coast.

But he slammed a subsequent missile launch as a "reckless provocation".

Also on Monday, a report by a US-based think-tank said that the North's effort to circumvent worldwide sanctions on its nuclear and missile programmes is complex, but could be defeated by targeting relatively few Chinese firms.

"It was confirmed that (the craft) took photos of the THAAD site in Seongju", a South Korean defense official told reporters.

The distance between the border and the THAAD zone in North Gyeongsang Province is around 270 kilometers (167 miles).

  • Sonia Alvarado