Mon, Apr 17, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Expected N Korean missile test fizzles

SOMETHING TO PROVE:The failed launch came one day after a parade of new missiles in Pyongyang, and China’s ‘Global Times’ said it raised the risk of another nuclear test

Reuters, SEOUL and PYONGYANG

Boys wearing military uniforms yesterday salute as they are photographed in a zoo in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Photo: Reuters

A North Korean missile “blew up almost immediately” yesterday on its test launch, the US Pacific Command said, hours before US Vice President Mike Pence landed in South Korea for talks on the North’s arms program.

The failed launch from North Korea’s east coast, ignoring repeated admonitions from major ally China, came one day after the North held a grand military parade in its capital, marking the anniversary of the birth of its founder, displaying what appeared to be new long-range ballistic missiles.

US President Donald Trump yesterday acknowledged China’s help with the North Korean issue, linking it to a softer line taken on China’s management of its currency.

“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!” Trump said on Twitter.

On the campaign trail last year Trump promised to label China in that way.

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪), and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday exchanged views on the “situation on the Korean Peninsula” by telephone, Xinhua news agency said, adding that Yang said the two sides should maintain dialogue.

South Korea said the North’s combined show of force “threatened the whole world,” but a US foreign policy adviser traveling with Pence on Air Force Two appeared to defuse some of the tension, saying the test of what was believed to be a medium-range missile had come as no surprise.

“We had good intelligence before the launch and good intelligence after the launch,” the adviser told reporters on condition of anonymity. “It’s a failed test. It follows another failed test. So really no need to reinforce their failure. We don’t need to expend any resources against that.”

The adviser said the missile’s flight lasted four or five seconds.

“It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when. The good news is that after five seconds it fizzled out,” the adviser said.

Pence is in Seoul at the beginning of a 10-day trip to Asia in what his aides said was a sign of US commitment to its ally in the face of rising tension.

South Korea, which hosts 28,500 US troops, had warned of punitive action if yesterday’s launch led to further provocation.

“North Korea showing a variety of offensive missiles at yesterday’s [Saturday] military parade and daring to fire a ballistic missile today is a show of force that threatens the whole world,” the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Pence, addressing an Easter service with US troops, said the US commitment to South Korea was unwavering, adding: “Let me assure you under President Trump’s leadership, our resolve has never been stronger. Our commitment to this historic alliance with the courageous people of South Korea has never been stronger.”

In Washington, US National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster said that the US was working with China and other allies to develop a range of options on North Korea, which he called “a hostile regime.”

He said that all options were on the table.

Saturday’s parade combined with yesterday’s failed missile launch made a sixth nuclear test increasingly likely, and if one was carried out, China would be compelled to support new sanctions against North Korea, the Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the Chinese Communist Party said in an editorial.

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