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LATEST: Kim promises more missile test 'gift packages'

WASHINGTON/SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un defiantly vowed to continue sending the U.S. "gift packages" of nuclear and missile tests after Washington confirmed that Pyongyang had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

North Korean state media, which on Wednesday reported the missile was capable of carrying a "large-sized heavy nuclear warhead," quoted a broadly-smiling Kim as saying the launch was an Independence Day "gift" for Americans.

The report of Kim's proud defiance came as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for further international pressure against North Korea after he confirmed that North Korea launched an ICBM as South Korea and the U.S. on Wednesday staged a combined ballistic missile exercise aimed at sending Pyongyang a warning.

The U.S. and South Korea fired a barrage of missiles into the East Sea, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff quoted by the Yonhap news agency. The exercise occurred shortly after Tillerson said, "Global action is required to stop a global threat," in a statement Tuesday.

Tillerson said the testing of an ICBM represents a "new escalation" of the threat, and indicated that the U.S. wants to further increase international pressure on North Korea.

The U.S. intends to bring North Korea's action to the U.N. Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold North Korea accountable, he added.

"All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons," he said.

"Countries that host North Korean guest workers, provide economic or military benefits to North Korea or fail to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions are aiding and abetting a dangerous regime," he added.

U.S. Pacific Command said Tuesday in a statement that it had "detected and tracked" a North Korean missile for 37 minutes before it landed in the Sea of Japan. The missile was launched from near Panghyon Airfield at 12:40 a.m. Tuesday (0040 GMT), U.S. Pacific Command said, adding that it did not pose a threat to North America.

The statement rebutted North Korea's claim that the missile was an ICBM, but U.S. officials later revised their assessment, telling US media it was probably and ICBM.

North Korea said the Hwasong-14 missile was an ICBM that had reached a cruising altitude of 2,802 kilometers and had flown 933 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan.

The missile's range means North Korea is a step closer to being able to launch a missile that could strike the U.S.

The launch came on the U.S. Independence Day holiday and days before a summit of G20 leaders in Hamburg, Germany.

U.S. President Donald Trump did not mention the North Korean missile launch in comments to members of the U.S. military who were invited to a picnic on the White House lawn to mark Independence Day.

Trump, who is due to leave for Germany on Wednesday, warned last week that the "era of strategic patience" with Pyongyang is over.

The U.S. president, who has turned to Beijing for help in reining in North Korea, sent a series of tweets after the launch, apparently referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un when he wrote, "Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?"

Trump also said,"Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"

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