North Korea Fires Missile Ahead of Trump-Xi Meeting

Visitors sit in front of the TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea's missile firing at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. North Korea fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters Wednesday, U.S. and South Korean officials said, amid worries the North might conduct banned nuclear or rocket tests ahead of the first summit between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping this week. The letters read "North Korea fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test, just 48 hours before U.S. President Donald Trump is due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

The projectile was fired into the East Sea early Wednesday and flew about 60 kilometers, South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said in a text message.

Any launch of objects using the ballistic missile technology is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, but the North has defied the ban as infringement of its sovereign rights to self-defense and pursuit of space exploration.

President Donald Trump speaks as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens as they both made statements about North Korea at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Feb. 11, 2017.

President Donald Trump speaks as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens as they both made statements about North Korea at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Feb. 11, 2017.

Launch follows Trump threat

Wednesday’s launch came after Trump threatened that the U.S. is prepared to go it alone in bringing the North to heel if China does not step in.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a terse statement from Washington in response to Pyongyang’s latest test: “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”

During his trip to South Korea last month, Tillerson rejected Washington’s long-standing policy of “strategic patience” in dealing with the hermit regime. “We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures,” he said. “All options are on the table.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks on as South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se speaks during a press conference in Seoul, March 17, 2017.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks on as South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se speaks during a press conference in Seoul, March 17, 2017.

North Korea responds to tough talk

North Korea’s foreign ministry on Monday assailed Washington for its tough talk and for an ongoing joint military exercise with South Korea and Japan, which Pyongyang sees as a dress rehearsal for invasion.

The “reckless actions” are driving the tense situation on the Korean peninsula “to the brink of a war,” a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the official KCNA news agency.

South Korean intelligence warned in late March that North Korea could detonate a nuclear device in the first week of April to “overshadow” the U.S.-China summit.

Meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, earlier in the month, Tillerson and said tensions on the Korean Peninsula have reached a “rather dangerous level.”

“I think we share a common view and a sense that tensions in the peninsula are quite high right now,” Tillerson said. “We will work together to see if we cannot bring the government in Pyongyang to a place where they want to make a different course — make a course correction — and move away from the development of nuclear weapons.”

Four missiles fired in March

Last month, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan in response to annual U.S.-South Korea military drills, which the North sees as a preparation for war.

Three of the missiles flew about 1,000 kilometers and landed in Japanese waters, the Pentagon said. U.S. officials said the weapons were medium-range rockets that did not pose a threat to North America.

VOA

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