U.S. to boost military defence against North Korea: Trump tells Shinzo Abe

Carla Harmon
April 6, 2017

The head of the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, told a Senate panel this week that "although North Korea is not an existential threat", it's "the most unsafe and unpredictable actor in the Pacific region".

Following North Korea's test of four missiles last month, Trump affirmed Washington's "ironclad commitment" to Japan and South Korea.

Trump is likely to urge China's leader to take up stronger role in pressuring the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions, and Tillerson's statement is a way of stressing it's time for action on North Korea, not just talk, Bong said.

Tensions ran high amid speculation that the North may carry out a major provocation including an additional nuclear test in time for the Trump-Xi meetings scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the USA leader's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday from its east coast into the sea off the Peninsula, South Korea's military said, ahead of a summit between USA and Chinese leaders who are set to discuss Pyongyang's arms program.

Experts see it as an attempt to set the tone for the summit between US President Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping later this week.

The South Korean military said the missile was sacked from land near the east coast city of Sinpo and flew only about 40 miles.

A USA defence official later said that the missile was an extended range Scud and had suffered an in-flight failure. Many weapons experts say the North could have a functioning nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental USA within a few years.

The new Trump administration hasn't backed down on the Thaad deployment. Defense Minister Han Min-koo reportedly inspected the launch and the missile was said to have met all requirements for a normal test - including flight and accuracy.

"I've joked before that they don't mind being hated but they definitely hate to be ignored", Cossa said.

South Korea's defence ministry said the missile, which was launched days after Pyongyang warned of retaliation if the global community ramps up sanctions had flown 60km. "China wants to make efforts with all sides involved, to make denuclearization a reality, and ensure peace in the region".

It is the latest in a series of tests which the North says is peaceful but is widely believed to be part of a programme to develop nuclear weapons, the BBC added.

North Korea has denied using big global events to get outside attention in order to wrest concessions and aid. It follows ballistic missile tests in February and March, as the isolated country defies United Nations sanctions and works on a missile that could deliver a miniaturized nuclear weapon to the continental U.S.

The missile seems to have flown about 60 kilometers and landed outside Japan's EEZ.

"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.

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