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North Korea carries missile test, Trump asks China to end Pyongyang’s ‘nonsense’

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-07-2017 Kanga Kong

Seoul: North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on Tuesday morning, further escalating tensions over its weapons programmes ahead of a meeting between the leaders of the US and China this week in Germany.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said the missile was fired around 9:40 am and flew about 930km. It was launched from North Korea’s west coast and was airborne for about 40 minutes, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said, and it may have fallen into waters that include that country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The US pacific command said in a statement it detected and tracked a land-based intermediate range missile that landed in the Sea of Japan. South Korean president Moon Jae-in convened his National Security Council.

US President Donald Trump responded on Twitter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s latest provocation, asking “does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”

“Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer,” Trump said. “Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

The launch comes at a time of renewed tensions between the US and China about how best to rein in Kim, with Trump set to meet Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping this week at the Group of 20 summit. Trump has said all options including military force are available to combat threats from North Korea, in line with longstanding US policy on the matter.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in televised remarks the threat from North Korea is “escalating” and called on China and Russia to play a more constructive role in dealing with the isolated nation.

It would be the 11th missile test this year by Kim’s regime. North Korea has accelerated its weapons testing program in defiance of United Nations sanctions as it seeks to develop a device that can deliver a nuclear warhead to North America. It has said it is “not far away” from test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile with the potential of hitting the US mainland.

The yen briefly spiked against the dollar and the Topix index pared gains after the launch, while South Korea’s benchmark Kospi share index fell as much as 0.4%.

While Trump has urged China to do more to contain North Korea, he said last month that Beijing had failed to rein in its neighbour and ally, in comments that came after the death of a US student following more than a year of imprisonment in North Korea. “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out,” Trump tweeted on 20 June. “At least I know China tried!”

China said in response its efforts had been “indispensable,” while North Korea denied it had tortured Otto Warmbier.

The US announced last week it was imposing sanctions on a Chinese bank, a shipping company, and two Chinese citizens in an attempt to cut off North Korea’s access to the international financial system.

The missile tests also complicate the new South Korean president’s efforts to engage with Pyongyang. Last week in a speech in Washington, Moon repeated his hope for talks with North Korea—a stance that potentially puts him at odds with Trump.####SUBBOX####

On 8 June, North Korea fired a series of short-range cruise missiles designed to attack ships. Previous tests were of ballistic missiles, including a 14 May projectile that analysts estimate had a range of 4,500 kilometers, putting it within reach of the US territory of Guam.

The US on 30 May tested a missile defence system that it said successfully intercepted and destroyed a mock intercontinental ballistic missile. The trial was the first intended to replicate the flight profile of an ICBM that could be deployed by North Korea. Bloomberg

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