North Korean missile explodes at launch

A North Korean missile exploded during launch Sunday from the country's east coast, the USA and South Korean officials said.

US Vice President Mike Pence, who is set to arrive in Seoul on Sunday for a previously planned trip to Asia, was briefed on the incident shortly after departing from Alaska.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Trump and his military team "are aware of North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch".

Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the think tank RAND Corporation, said he thinks the missiles were not the kind that could reach the United States' mainland. Neither military knew what kind of missile was sacked.

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

"I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea", Trump wrote.

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North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile on Sunday morning that exploded nearly immediately after launch, defying warnings from the Trump administration to avoid any further provocations.

If Sunday's missile launch leads to a nuclear test or an ICBM launch, there would be "a powerful punishing measure that North Korean authority can't endure", South Korean officials said. This matters because while North Korea regularly launches short-range missiles, it is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland.

This launch can possibly be a test for a new type of missile or an upgrade, Kim said. Last year, Pyongyang attempted to launch a Musudan missile on April 15, an auspicious date on which millions celebrate Kim II Sung's birthday.

China, North Korea's most important ally and key provider of food and fuel aid, has sought to cool tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs, repeatedly calling for dialogue.

Along with the deployment of the Naval aircraft carrier and other vessels into waters off the Korean Peninsula, thousands of US and South Korean troops, tanks and other weaponry were also deployed last month in their biggest-ever joint military exercises.

Seoul's foreign ministry "strongly condemned" the launch, warning that Pyongyang would face "serious punitive measures" should it conduct a nuclear test or other major strategic provocations. That was the site of a ballistic missile test earlier this month in which the projectile fell into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea. His visit comes just after a failed missile launch by the North. Mr Kim's regime has test-fired ballistic missiles five times this year in his quest to develop a device that can carry a nuclear warhead to North America.

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