The ballistic missile has been estimated to have hit a maximum altitude of 2,000 kilometres and flown around 800 kilometres for half an hour, Seoul's military said.

North Korea has intensified its missile launches to demonstrate its military might.
North Korea has intensified its missile launches to demonstrate its military might. (AP)

North Korea has tested its most powerful missile since 2017, ramping up the firepower for its record-breaking seventh launch this month as Seoul warned nuclear and long-range tests could be next.

The Japanese and South Korean militaries said on Sunday the missile was launched on a lofted trajectory, apparently to avoid the territorial spaces of neighbors, and reached a maximum altitude of 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles) and traveled 800 kilometres (497 miles) before landing in the sea.

Sunday’s test was the North’s 7th round of weapons launches this month as the flight details suggest Pyongyang tested its longest-range ballistic missile since 2017.

South Korea said that North Korea appeared to be following a "similar pattern" to 2017 -- when tensions were last at breaking-point on the peninsula -- warning Pyongyang could soon restart nuclear and intercontinental missile tests.

North Korea "has come close to destroying the moratorium declaration", South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said in a statement following an emergency meeting of Seoul's National Security Council.

READ MORE: China, Russia block US bid to impose UN sanctions on North Koreans

'Old playbook of brinkmanship'

North Korea has been ramping up its testing activity in recent months, demonstrating its military might amid pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear diplomacy with the United States - it makes more than it had conducted all of in 2021.

While aggressively expanding his military capabilities despite limited resources, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is also reviving Pyongyang’s old playbook of brinkmanship to wrest concessions from Washington, which leads to international sanctions over the North’s nuclear program.

Experts say the North could halt its testing spree after the start of the Beijing Winter Olympics next week out of respect for China, its major ally and economic lifeline. 

But there’s also an expectation that the North could significantly up the ante in weapons demonstrations once the Olympics end in February to grab the attention of the Biden administration, which has been focusing more on confronting China and Russia over its conflict with Ukraine.

In a ruling party meeting chaired by Kim on January 20, senior party members made a veiled threat to resume testing of nuclear explosives and long-range missiles targeting the American homeland, which Kim suspended in 2018 while initiating diplomacy with the United States.

Kim’s summitry with then-President Donald Trump derailed in 2019 after the Americans rejected North Korea’s demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

READ MORE: India, Pakistan tested dozens of missiles but North Korea grabbed eyeballs

Source: TRTWorld and agencies