UN Security Council adopts statement condemning NK missile launch

EU expands sanctions against North Korea

Somewhere on the order of just shy of 90 per cent of North Korea's external trade is with China.

North Korea's foreign ministry on Monday criticised the USA for its tough talk and for an ongoing joint military exercise with South Korea and Japan which the North sees as a dress rehearsal for invasion.

The firing was made as South Korean and USA troops were conducting annual military drills that the North views as an invasion rehearsal.

The US and its regional allies, South Korea and Japan, have been holding regular joint military exercises on the Korean Peninsula to counter perceived threats from the North.

Trump and Xi will hold their first face-to-face meeting on Thursday at the U.S. president's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida where the growing tensions on the Korean peninsula are expected to be high on the agenda.

The initial US and South Korean assessments indicated it was a KN-15 medium-range missile, whose first publicly known test in February was considered by many foreign experts as a potentially worrying development.

North Korea has been pursuing its nuclear and missile programs at an unprecedented pace since a year ago, with an aim to expand its deterrence against Washington and diversify its line-up of nuclear-equipped missiles, another expert said. The missile launch may be a precursor, with more to come as the summit starts Thursday, he said.

"This administration wants to see them act, and I think they're going to pressure them to do that", she said.

China is North Korea's sole major diplomatic friend and a key trading partner that supplies the isolated state with much of its hard currency in the face of stringent global sanctions. Unlike South Korea, the North operates under heavy global sanctions as the United Nations Security Council has been working for years to stop Pyongyang's development of weapons of mass destruction.

Two weeks ago, the South Korean and U.S. militaries said they detected what they called a failed North Korean ballistic missile launch.

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.

As the leaders of China and the United States sit down for a summit on Thursday, North Korea has made sure it also has something on the negotiating table: A nuclear-tipped bargaining chip. North Korea called that test a success, but some outside analysts said it might test the weapon again before deploying it.

"If we push the button, the bombs will be fired and reduce the U.S.to ashes", an editorial in the ruling Workers' Party newspaper the Rodong Sinmun said on Wednesday.

The Pentagon last April told Congress that North Korea continues to develop a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile that "would likely be capable of reaching much of the continental United States". This is according to the USA military.

The U.S. responded with a cryptic message of its own.

The council the failed test followed a missile launch on March 21 and two additional rounds of launches and an engine test in February and March.



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