Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

North Korean test missile explodes on launch

North Korean test missile explodes on launch

Pence is visiting South Korea beginning Sunday, part of an Asia-Pacific trip that comes amid indications that North Korea is potentially preparing its sixth nuclear test in a decade or a significant missile launch. The high-profile failure came as the North tried to showcase its nuclear and missile capabilities around the birth anniversary of the North's late founder and as a US aircraft carrier neared the Korean Peninsula.

Vice President Mike Pence says the USA commitment to South Korea is "iron-clad and immutable" in the face of North Korea's work to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile program.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Vice President Mike Pence is opening his trip to the Asia-Pacific region amid increasing tensions in North Korea over the regime's nuclear and missile programs. North Korea is thought to have a small arsenal of atomic bombs and an impressive array of short- and medium-range missiles.

Pence is on the first stop of a four-nation Asia tour meant to show America's allies, and remind its adversaries, that the administration of President Donald Trump was not turning its back on the increasingly volatile region.

During the election, President Trump said he would call China a currency manipulator on day one.

According to the US Pacific Command, the North Korean missile "blew up nearly immediately", adding that its type is yet to be identified.

Sinpo, where the launch took place, is the site of a North Korean submarine base and where the North has tested the submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) it is developing.

USA military officials don't believe the missile had intercontinental capabilities, a United States defense official told CNN. Pence is in Seoul for talks on curbing the North's weapons programmes.

"The US introduces into the Korean Peninsula, the world's biggest hotspot, huge nuclear strategic assets, seriously threatening peace and security of the peninsula and pushing the situation there to the brink of a war", the North Koran Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

US Vice-President Mike Pence has declared that his country's "era of strategic patience" with North Korea is over.

The Trump administration is hoping that China will help rein in North Korea in exchange for other considerations. Still, even without mastering ICBM technology - which will mean North Korea can reach Europe and mainland US from its own territory - just the medium range missiles, and North Korea's apparent success in mounting them on submarines, has begun to spook Washington.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reiterated that pressure, not only dialogue, is necessary in dealing with North Korea's missile and nuclear threat.

North Korea has ramped up work on its missile program in recent months and has been fine-tuning its intercontinental ballistic missile technology. April 15 is meant to be focused completely on honoring Kim Il Sung and by extension his son, Kim Jong Il, and grandson, current leader Kim Jong Un. He will aim to reassure allies in South Korea and Japan that the USA will take appropriate steps to defend them against North Korean aggression.

The North faced severe sanctions from the UN Security Council for a series of missile launches past year, in addition to two nuclear tests.

A White House foreign policy adviser, briefing reporters on the plane that carried Pence to Seoul, was asked what steps China had committed to when President Xi Jinping met recently with Trump in Florida.

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