Japan lodges protest with N. Korea over ballistic missile launch

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits at the border village of Panmunjom which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War South Korea Monday

In an unusually worded statement that left hanging the question of whether the United States played any role in the latest launch's failure, defense secretary Jim Mattis said: "The President and his military team are aware of North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch".

Pence said at a fellowship dinner at US Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul that the willingness of military members "to stand firm without fear inspires the nation and inspires the world".

Senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News last week that they meant to attack North Korea should they follow through on another nuclear test. 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.

The missile failure also came hours ahead of a visit by US Vice President Mike Pence to South Korea where the North's weapons program will top the agenda.

A North Korean missile fired from the east coast of the country Sunday "blew up nearly immediately", officials said.

Mr Pence said there had been a period of patience in the 25 years since North Korea first obtained nuclear weapons.

While the North did not conduct a nuclear test, the specter of a potential escalated US response is trailing Pence as he undertakes a 10-day trip to Asia amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric.

It comes as Washington steps up the pressure on the isolated North, with President Donald Trump saying that the USA is ready to act alone to deal with the nuclear threat.

"It is likely that this launch is a test for a new type of missile or an upgrade so the possibility is high for further provocation in the near future", Kim Dong-Yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University's Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul, said.

He said the USA and its allies would deal with the situation "through peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary".

Abe told Parliament he would exchange views on North Korea with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they hold a summit meeting later this month.

With speculation mounting that the North is preparing to conduct a sixth nuclear test, he sent an aircraft carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula - a pointed gesture in the wake of the recent USA missile strike on Syria.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un applauds during a parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Saturday, April 15.

Deputy national adviser K.T. McFarland briefed the president on the failed missile launch.

The North fired a ballistic missile into the waters off the peninsula earlier this month. "So the question is, how does North Korea back off and say, we have a nuclear program, but we don't have nuclear weapons yet?" The missile which is supposed to be one of the country's new "game-changer" intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) which was revealed to the world in a display of military might during the country's parade and celebration of the country's creation yesterday.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it failed to take off, while a Defence Ministry official told CNN the same.

The United States is moving an aircraft supercarrier toward the Korean Peninsula in a show of force, which the North sees as Washington's intention to declare war.

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. The United States, South Korea and other countries have vowed to apply more pressure on the North, but so far nothing has worked to stop Pyongyang's nuclear program. A fresh nuclear test will bring severe consequences.



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