United States ready for any acts against North Korea

South Korea's defence ministry said that nuclear-armed North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday.

The South Korean military said the missile was sacked from land near the east coast city of Sinpo and flew about 60 kilometers (40 miles).

The latest launch comes ahead of a summit meeting between U.S. president Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping, in which Trump is expected to discuss how to rein in North Korea's nuclear program.

With mounting fears about North Korea's growing nuclear program, the White House plans to pressure Xi to take a tougher approach with their increasingly aggressive Korean ally.

During the conversation, Abe and Trump also stressed that China has a key role in persuading North Korea to put an end to its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

North Korea is pushing hard to upgrade its weapons systems to cope with what it calls USA hostility.

North Korea has stepped up the frequency of missile and nuclear weapons tests over the past two years and experts say it is closing in on the ability to hit the United States with a missile.

Defying the global community, North Korea test-fired four missiles on March 5, and another on February 12.

"We would have loved to see North Korea join the community of nations".

North Korea often responds to the drills with its own military training and harsh rhetoric.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the launch in a brief statement but said the U.S. had spoken enough about North Korea and would not comment further.

But he also said the missile launch was hard to understand because North Korea benefits from the US and China being at odds with one another.

"It is still too early to discuss whether the launch was a success or failure and whether the missile flied normally", said the official. "We believe the missile launch came in consideration of the scheduled US-China summit and gave the North an opportunity to check its missile capability".

Chang Yong-Seok, a researcher at the Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, said the missile test was Pyongyang's way of warning China and the US.

Two weeks ago, the South Korean and US militaries said they had detected a failed North Korean ballistic missile launch. On March 6, Pyongyang fired four medium-range ballistic missiles from Tongchang-ri region - near the border with China - toward the Sea of Japan, three of which fell in Japan's exclusive economic zone.

  • Joey Payne