Published: Thu, April 06, 2017
Science | By Kerry Wheeler

North Korea may have tested new technology in latest missile


Ahead of a meeting between China's President Xi Jinping, left, and President Donald Trump, the U.S.is reportedly discussing preventing Chinese investors from buying Westinghouse's nuclear business.

The hermit state has now developed a "very significant level" of nuclear development, according to Thae Yong Ho, North Korea's former deputy ambassador to the UK. Having reached an altitude of 189 kilometers, the missile flew about 60 kilometers before falling into the East Sea, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Calling South Korea a responsible, friendly and economically vibrant democracy, the official said the USA will safeguard its allies and its land against any threat including from North Korea, emphasizing Washington will not budge on its defense commitment to South Korea.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile into waters off its east coast early on Wednesday morning, a new provocation by Pyongyang ahead of talks between United States president Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, his Chinese counterpart.

The US and South Korean militaries said initial assessments indicated the latest launch was of a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile, which would be the same kind North Korea test-launched in February.

Even before the missile test, North Korea's nuclear program was expected to be an important talking point between Xi and Trump. Most recently, the country failed in its attempt to launch a missile from near Wonsan on its east coast on March 22. White House officials said Tuesday that trade and security would be high on Trump's agenda, including pushing China to exert more economic pressure on North Korea.

The missile was sacked at a high angle and reached an altitude of 189 km (117 miles), the official said.

If confirmed to be a missile, it would be the latest such launch by Pyongyang and will fuel worldwide concerns about the isolated regime's military ambitions.

"We would like to work on North Korea together", the official said in a briefing for reporters.

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The latest missile test came amid concerns that the North may carry out another nuclear test or long-range missile launch.

Shortly after the missile launch Cheong Wa Dae convened a National Security Council meeting chaired by its chief Kim Kwan-jin.

US Pacific Command said it detected and tracked a North Korean missile launch at 11:42 a.m. Hawaii time April 4, according to a statement.

The North's latest missile launch also came during annual military drills between the United States and South Korea.

North Korea with its missile launches probably wants to create attention and use it as leverage for concessions, but Tillerson with his statement has sent a stern message that the United States won't be a party to it, South Korean experts said.

The sabre-rattling dictator has been condemned across the globe for his development of nuclear weapons and inter-continental ballistic missiles.

"If a first strike is a success and is able to neutralize all the weapons that Kim Jong Un has, then that would be good for us and the rest of the region", he said. But "a solid (fueled) rocket can be rolled out and launched at a moment's notice".

Solid fuel-powered missiles are easier to move and launch than their liquid fuel counterparts. "It should be concerning everyone because it will be improving the chance to use their offensive capabilities better". "The clock has now run out and all options are on the table for us". It gave no further details like exactly what type of missile the North launched.

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