N. Korea says missile test shows progress in nuclear weapons program

In December 2016, the UN had imposed its toughest sanctions on North Korea in an attempt to deter the defiant nation from conducting nuclear missile tests.

China's Foreign Ministry meanwhile expressed concern on Monday after Japan got continued U.S. backing for its dispute with Beijing over Japan-administered islets in the East China Sea during a meeting between U.S. President Trump and Prime Minister Abe.

The launch came as Japanese premier Shinzo Abe was on an official visit to the U.S., meeting President Donald Trump. Neither Abe nor Trump took questions.

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) attends a joint press conference with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on February 13, 2017.

Members of Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago club posted pictures on social media of the President being briefed on and discussing a response to a North Korean missile test in the outdoor dining area of the estate.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missile was sacked from near Banghyon, North Pyongan Province, believed to be the site where North Korea tested a Musudan missile on October 15 and 20.

Geng said China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has been "completely and comprehensively" implementing Security Council resolutions on the nuclear issue.

Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations Koro Bessho said in a press conference after the meeting that the Security Council was unanimous in condemning North Korea for its latest ballistic missile launch on Sunday, and will push for implementation of existing resolutions to address the issue. With that said, the analyst noted that individual UN members, including the United States and other nations, might impose unilateral sanctions against the country.

That comment brought a vow of an "overwhelming" response from U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis during a visit to South Korea this month. While Pyongyang may not have timed the launch during Abe's visit specifically to send a signal to the new US administration, it allowed Abe and Trump to present a collective response.

In January leader Kim Jong-un boasted that Pyongyang was in the "final stages" of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in an apparent attempt to pressure the incoming USA president.

Pyongyang in 2016 conducted two nuclear tests and numerous missile launches in its quest to develop a nuclear weapons system capable of hitting the USA mainland.

Kim said at the time that the missile, which was launched towards Japan, put the United States mainland and the Pacific within striking range. Trump didn't give specifics of how he'd stop Kim's missile development.

North Korea has repeatedly flouted six Security Council resolutions demanding an end to its nuclear and ballistic missile activities and imposing increasingly tougher sanctions.

After news of the missile test came to light, CNN reported Mr Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn joined him at the dinner table for the discussion. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan would look to strengthen cooperation on information sharing with the USA and South Korea, Kyodo reported.

  • Larry Hoffman