North Korea has test-fired a ballistic missile, the South Korean and US militaries said, defying pressure from the United States and Pyongyang’s main ally, China.
US and South Korean officials said Saturday’s test, from an area north of the North Korean capital appeared to have failed, in what would be a fourth successive unsuccessful missile test since March.
The test came as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the UN Security Council that failure to curb North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes could lead to “catastrophic consequences”.
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the missile was probably a medium-range weapon known as a KN-17 and appeared to have broken up within minutes of taking off.
South Korea’s military said the missile, fired from the Pukchang region in a northeasterly direction, reached an altitude of 71km before disintegrating a few minutes into flight.
The North has been conducting missile and nuclear weapons related activities at an unprecedented rate since the beginning of the year and is believed to have made some progress in developing intermediate-range and submarine-launched missiles.
Push for sanctions
The launch comes amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula and warnings from US President Donald Trump’s administration that it is running out of patience.
“North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!,” Trump said in a post on Twitter after the launch
On Friday, Washington pushed for tougher sanctions to confront the North Korean threat, piling pressure on China to rein in its ally while warning it was keeping military options “on the table”.
But both China and Russia rebuked Washington’s threat of military force at a meeting of the UN Security Council on the matter.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the 15-member council it was not only up to China to solve the North Korean problem.
“The key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side,” Wang told the council.