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North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Into Sea of Japan in Latest Test

North Korea again fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, officials said in a provocation that comes amid annual joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.
Image: A woman walks past a television screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch
A woman walks past a television screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on April 5, 2017.Jung Yeon-Je / AFP - Getty Images

North Korea on Wednesday again fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, South Korean and U.S. military officials said, in a provocation that comes amid annual joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.

The single ballistic missile launched at around 6:42 a.m. Seoul time (5:42 p.m. Tuesday ET) from the area of the port city of Sinpo traveled about 60 kilometers, or just over 37 miles, before crashing into the sea, a South Korean military officer said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a terse response.

"North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea," Tillerson said. "We have no further comment."

Tillerson last month said two decades of diplomatic efforts to rein in North Korea have failed, and said military action is "on the table" if the country's weapons program poses a threat.

"The policy of strategic patience has ended," Tillerson said on March 17.

The launch also comes ahead of a planned meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump in Florida this week, in which Pyongyang's weapons program is sure to come up. The U.S. military said the missile appeared to be an intermediate range ballistic missile.

Image: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA on the spot
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervises a ballistic rocket launching drill in this undated photo released on March 7, 2017.KCNA via Reuters

In March, North Korea fired five ballistic missilesin two launches, which all fell onto the sea, and tested what it said was a high thrust rocket engine.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, including two last year, and has warned it was ready to test an intercontinental ballistic missile at any time.

The latest missile launch was tracked by the U.S. military, which said the launch was from a facility on land and the missile flew 9 minutes before it crashed into the sea.

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U.S. Pacific Command said the missile appears to have been a KN-15 medium range ballistic missile. It did not pose a threat to North America, Pacific Command said.

"U.S. Pacific Command is fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security," the military said in a statement.

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South Korea’s presidential office said the standing committee of its National Security Council will be convened.

The isolated regime conducted 24 ballistic missile tests during 2016, and experts say it could have a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland within a few years.

In tests last month, North Korea fired what experts believe was a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile on March 22. That type of missile is capable of traveling around 3,000 kilometers, or around 1,864 miles, making it conceivable that one could hit or come close to Guam.

North Korea on Match 6 also fired four short-range ballistic missiles believed to have been an improved version of Scud missiles, with a range of around 500 km, or 310 miles.

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Xi, China’s president, is scheduled to meet with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Thursday and Friday. China is a supporter of North Korea, although it does not approve of the country’s nuclear tests.

Image: A PAC-3 surface-to-air missile launcher unit
A PAC-3 surface-to-air missile launcher unit, used to engage incoming ballistic missile threats, is seen through cherry blossoms at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo.Behrouz Mehri / AFP - Getty Images

Trump on Twitter on March 17 said "China has done little to help" curb North Korea’s actions. He said in an interview published in the Financial Times this week that the United States may go it alone to "solve" the North Korea problem.

"If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will," Trump told the newspaper.

The United States began shipping components of an anti-missile system, called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, to South Korea last month. China has opposed the move and called it a threat to its security interests.