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Seoul: North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast

Seoul: North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast”

Leaders and senior officials from the United States, South Korea and Japan spoke on Thursday to discuss the latest provocation from Pyongyang, hours before U.S. President Donald Trump begins a summit with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

"North Korea fired an unidentified projectile into the Sea of Japan this morning from (the eastern port of) Sinpo", the ministry said in a statement.

Do the Donald Trump Korea policy statements over the last week or so - along with statements by Secretary of State Tillerson and others in the government and military - indicate the United States might be planning a preemptive military strike against Kim Jong-un and North Korea? Many weapons experts say the North could have a functioning nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental USA within a few years. The testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles only further highlights the need for the State Department to declare the obvious - North Korea is a state-sponsor of terrorism.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry called the North's latest missile launch a "reckless provocation" that posed a threat to global peace, while Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said his country lodged a strong protest over the launch.

"While it is entirely possible it was the land-based KN-15, it very well could have been a test of their SLBM system that was conducted on land", said Dave Schmerler, an expert at the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

The command says it believes the missile was a KN-15 medium range ballistic missile.

Trump has repeatedly said China must do more to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile development. When conducting nuclear and missiles tests in recent years, it has cited what it calls increasing US military threats. The North Korea issue will likely be among top agenda items.

South Korea's defence ministry said: "The military is keeping a close watch over North Korea's provocative moves and maintaining a high defence posture".

It's also an uncertain time for the region as the nascent Trump administration has yet to spell out its broader strategy for North Korea, which has increased its nuclear capabilities over the past few years.

The North Koreans use Sinpo shipyard for their submarine activity, and U.S. satellites have observed increased activity there in recent days, a second USA official said.

"The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America". Many weapons experts say the North could have a functioning nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental US within a few years.

The launch also came amid ongoing annual South Korea-U.S. military drills that North Korea usually responds to with its own military training and missile tests.

Trump, in an interview with the Financial Times this week, said, "China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won't".

Reuters reported that the launch constitutes a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

North Korea is pushing hard to upgrade its weapons systems to cope with what it calls USA hostility.

Mr Gatling referred to reports in the press of "left-of-launch" attacks targeting the North: "It has been openly mentioned that there is a possibility that the North's supply chain for components has been deliberately infected, and they might never know".



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