North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the waters off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korean officials said, in a continuation of its weapons launches made as the country is angrily reacting to annual military drills between USA and South Korean troops.
The initial US and South Korean assessments indicated it was a KN-15 medium-range missile, whose first publicly known test in February was considered by many foreign experts as a potentially worrying development.
"The clock has now run out, and all options are on the table", a senior White House official told CNN, following the news.
A North Korean missile test ended in failure Wednesday when the rocket spun out of control and plunged into the ocean in a fiery crash, a senior USA defense official said. Most of North Korea's missiles use liquid propellant, which usually must be added on the launch pad before the weapon is fired.
From past year, North Korea took the rare step of publicizing images of its missile equipment tests, convincing analysts that Pyongyang's banned program was further along toward successfully testing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) than first thought.
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North Korea called that test a success, but some outside analysts said it might test the weapon again before deploying it.
Instead of the usual condemnation of calling it a provocative act in violation of U.N. resolutions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said simply, "the United States has spoken enough about North Korea".
So North Korea may not have minded giving a fresh look of its capabilities ahead of the Trump-Xi summit while sticking to its own weapons development schedule, said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul's Dongguk University.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile flew about 60 kilometers (37 miles).
Seoul's Defense Minister Han Min-koo observed the launch and Yonhap's source said the missile met the important requirements of launch, flight and target strike.
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This missile was not a threat, but coming just days before President Trump meets with China's President Xi it did seem to carry a message: Nothing the two presidents do will stop North Korea from developing a nuclear arsenal.
South Korea has developed the Hyunmoo-2A ballistic missile, the Hyunmoo-2B and the Hyunmoo-3 cruise missile.
"I've joked before that they don't mind being hated but they definitely hate to be ignored, " Cossa said. The United States, South Korea and others call North Korea's space program a cover for its long-range missile development program.
"If we are serious about solving this issue, we need to tackle the root of it", she said at a regular news briefing. The KN-15 missile tested in February flew about 500 kilometers (310 miles). Earlier in March, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles that flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), with three of them landing in waters that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone.
The North's latest missile launch also came during annual military drills between the United States and South Korea. North Korea sees the drills as an invasion rehearsal.
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