29 Apr 2017

Trump tweets as N Korea fires another missile

12:58 pm on 29 April 2017

North Korea has again test-fired a ballistic missile according to the South Korean and US militaries, defying intense pressure from the United States and the reclusive state's main ally, China.

North Korea fires ballistic missile near Japan: RNZ Checkpoint

North Korea has performed several ballistic missile tests and, so far, five nuclear tests. (file photo) Photo: RNZ / YouTube

US and South Korean officials said the test, from an area north of the capital Pyongyang, appeared to have failed in what would be a fourth successive unsuccessful missile test since March.

The test came as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the UN Security Council that failure to curb North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs could lead to "catastrophic consequences".

US President Donald Trump tweeted after the launch.

"North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!"

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the missile was probably a medium-range weapon known as a KN-17 and appeared to have broken up within minutes of taking off.

South Korea's military said it reached an altitude of 71km before disintegrating a few minutes into flight.

The North has been conducting missile and nuclear weapons related activities at an unprecedented rate since the beginning of the year and is believed to have made some progress in developing intermediate-range and submarine-launched missiles.

Tension had spiked on the Korean peninsula over concern the North may conduct a long-range missile test, or its sixth nuclear test, around the time of the April 15 anniversary of its state founder's birth, or the day marking the founding of its military this week.

The timing of the launch suggested it was calculated to send a message as North Korea remained under the scrutiny of world powers, said Kim Dong-yub, an expert at Kyungnam University's Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.

"It was planned at a complicated timing around the end of the South Korea-US joint military drills, the United States talking about military options and the announcement of North Korea policies and the Security Council meeting," Mr Kim said.

South Korean and US forces have been conducting annual military drills since the beginning of March that conclude at the end of April.

Mr Kim said North Korea might have obtained the data it wanted with the missile's short flight, then blown it up in the air.

- Reuters / BBC

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