Britain 'concerned' by North Korea missile test

Frederick Owens
April 21, 2017

AP photo U.S. Marine soldiers patrol Tuesday during the U.S. Quoting unnamed US officials, the Associated Press is reporting that the Trump administration came up with the strategy after a two-month review.

The White House has said Trump has put the North "on notice" while the possibility of USA military action against Pyongyang has gained traction following US strikes against Syria on April 7.

North Korea is working to develop a nuclear missile that can strike the United States.

In the end, however, they settled on a policy that appears to represent continuity.

"Outside South Korea, some people are anxious, but we don't feel like that in our daily lives", said Choi Na-young, an office worker in central Seoul. The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly on the results of the policy review and requested anonymity.

A North Korean missile "blew up nearly immediately" on its test launch on Sunday, the U.S. Pacific Command said, hours before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was due in the South for talks on the North's increasingly defiant arms programme.

Pyongyang has undertaken five nuclear tests since 2006.

Air China and North Korea's Air Koryo are the only two airlines serving that route, with the latter operating on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Its research suggested a range between 10 and 16 such weapons two years earlier.

"This morning's provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world", said Pence.

The North regularly launches short-range missiles, but is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland.

He said the North may have a handful of plutonium-based warheads it can mount on medium-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching South Korea and Japan.

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The nuclear-armed North is under United Nations sanctions over its weapons programmes, and has ambitions to build a rocket capable of delivering a warhead to the U.S. mainland -- something Trump has vowed "won't happen". The administration's immediate emphasis, the officials said, will be on increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of Beijing. Although China advocates for diplomatic outreach, the focus for now is on pressure.

The North is aiming its message at China as well as the United States, analysts say. It can not lead to an arms control agreement or reduction of the North's atomic arsenal that would imply American acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear power.

Speculation that it could conduct a sixth blast in the coming days to coincide with the anniversary has reached fever pitch, with specialist United States website 38North describing its Punggye-ri test site as "primed and ready" and White House officials saying military options were "already being assessed". They pointed to a recent editorial in a state-run Chinese newspaper advocating tighter restrictions on selling oil to North Korea.

It comes amid speculation that the current leader, Kim Jong-un, could order another nuclear test. China is North Korea's only major ally.

Trump posted a tweet Tuesday in which he said the North is "looking for trouble" and reiterated his call for more pressure from Beijing, North Korea's economic lifeline, to clamp down on trade and strengthen its enforcement of United Nations sanctions to persuade Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Pyongyang has also expressed anger over the ongoing annual spring military exercises the US holds with South Korea, which it considers a rehearsal for invasion.

North Korea holds a military parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017, as it marked the 105th anniversary of its founding leader's birth.

Along with the deployment of the US aircraft carrier and other vessels into waters off the Korean Peninsula, thousands of USA and South Korean troops, tanks and other weaponry were deployed last month in their biggest joint military exercises. Trump has repeatedly issued ambiguous threats that if Beijing isn't willing to do more to squeeze the North, the US might take the matter into its own hands.

Speaking to a parliamentary session Monday following North Korea's massive military parade and botched missile launch, Abe said: "Needless to say, diplomatic effort is important to maintain peace".

North Korea has warned the United States not to take provocative action in the region, saying it is "ready to hit back with nuclear attacks".

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