US Missile
The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches during a flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., May 30, 2017.Reuters

The Pentagon has confirmed that it has successfully completed an intercontinental ballistic missile interception test from its California base aimed at ensuring the effectiveness of the anti-missile system amid growing tensions with North Korea.

The interception took place as scheduled on Tuesday over the Pacific Ocean, when a rocket launched from the Vandenberg base destroyed an intercontinental missile launched from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Efe news reported.

"The intercept of a complex threat-representative intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) target is an incredible accomplishment," Vice Admiral Jim Syring, director of the US Missile Defence Agency, said in a statement.

Syring stressed that "this system is vitally important to the defence of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat".

This is the first time that the Pentagon has attempted to shoot down an intercontinental missile.

The test was carried out two days after North Korea fired a missile that flew some 450 km to the east and fell into the waters of Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

North Korea continues to take steps towards developing long-range missile technology capable of reaching the US territory, as well as designing a nuclear warhead compact enough to fit in a missile.

The Pentagon, for its part, is conducting a review of its nuclear deterrent system, which includes intercontinental missiles, strategic bombers and nuclear submarines, to determine if any modernisations are needed.