Seoul: North Korea's missile programme is progressing faster than expected, South Korea's defense minister said yesterday, hours after the UN Security Council demanded the North halt all nuclear and ballistic missile tests and condemned Sunday's test-launch.

The North, which has defied all calls to rein in its weapons programmes, even from its lone ally, China, has been working on a missile, mounted with a nuclear warhead, capable of striking the US mainland.

US President Donald Trump's administration has called for a halt to Pyongyang's provocations and warned that the "era of strategic patience" with North Korea is over. US Disarmament Ambassador Robert Wood said yesterday that China's leverage was key.

The North's KCNA news agency said Sunday's launch tested its capability to carry a "large-size nuclear warhead". Its ambassador to China said in Beijing on Monday it would continue such test launches "any time, any place". 

'WannaCry similar to North Korean hacks'

Seoul/Washington: Cybersecurity researchers have found evidence they say could link North Korea with the WannaCry cyber attack that has infected more than 3 lakh computers worldwide, as global authorities scrambled to prevent hackers from spreading new versions of the virus.

A researcher from South Korea's Hauri Labs said yesterday that their own findings matched those of Symantec and Kaspersky Lab, who had said on Monday that some code in an earlier version of the WannaCry software had also appeared in programmes used by the Lazarus Group, identified by some researchers as a North Korea-run hacking operation.

"It is similar to North Korea's backdoor malicious codes," said Simon Choi, a senior researcher with Hauri who has done extensive research into North Korea's hacking capabilities and advises South Korean police and National Intelligence Service.

Both Symantec and Kaspersky, however, said it was too early to tell whether North Korea was involved in the attacks, based on the evidence that was published on Twitter by Google security researcher Neel Mehta.

While FireEye researcher John Miller, too, said US and European security officials maintain it was too early to say who is behind the attack, they did not rule out North Korea as a suspect.