BREAKING : North Korea fires a ballistic missile

North Korea has fired an unidentified ballistic missile, according to South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff.

The missile flew eastward and the South Korean military is analysing details with the US, Yonhap news agency said.

The apparent launch marks the latest escalation of a global standoff with an increasingly assertive North Korea. The nuclear-armed hermit state has repeatedly displayed its military prowess in recent months, combining ballistic missile launches with threats of destroying Japan, the United States and the US territory of Guam. It tested a powerful hydrogen bomb for the first time.

Diplomatic constraints have failed to halt North Korea’s belligerence, with the country forging ahead with military tests despite successive rounds of United Nations sanctions targeting the country’s economy.

Donald Trump has returned rhetorical fire, repeatedly threatening North Korea with military force — a warning his top aides have echoed — and mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Little Rocket Man”.

North Korea has called Mr Trump’s threats of a military response tantamount to a declaration of war. The President drew a rare personal rebuke from Kim Jong Un himself, who called Mr Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard”.

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