China urges United States to be 'coolheaded' in approach to North Korea

North Korea launched four ballistic missiles from near its west coast on March 6 and this week conducted a rocket engine test that its leader, Kim Jong Un, said opened "a new birth" of its rocket industry.

The aborted launch came as the administration of President Donald Trump is reviewing US policy on North Korea as well as ongoing South Korea-US drills.

In the past few weeks, North Korea launched a successful Musudan missile test, with the rocket falling in the sea near Japan, while declaring that if a single bullet is fired, a nuclear response would be warranted against the United States.

South Korea said the apparent test launch of one missile by nuclear-capable North Korea, from the city of Wonsan on its east coast, had failed.

A USA military spokesman also said they had detected a failed North Korean missile launch attempt, with a missile exploding within seconds of its launch.

Weapons experts say such technology has applications for the North's ballistic missile programme.

Kelly said the United States was still struggling to find a way to rein in North Korea's aggressive behavior.

Kim's regime fired at least 25 projectiles in 2016, according to the United Nations, which bans it from pursuing ballistic missile technology because it could be used to deliver nuclear warheads.

While the report could not be independently confirmed, Reuters on Friday quoted an anonymous South Korean military official as saying Pyongyang was ready to carry out a detonation "at any time", although he declined to confirm if evidence pointed to an imminent test. US officials have provided a more specific time frame.

"Chances are high that North Korea may soon take additional provocative steps", a senior defense ministry official said, according to Yonhap News.

"The Chinese representative said that China pays great attention to developing economic and trade relations between China and South Korea", Sun told a regular news briefing.

"Tillerson admitted the failure of the USA efforts to denuclearise the DPRK for 20 years and end Obama's policy of "strategic patience" during his recent tour", the official was quoted as saying.

North Korea conducted two nuclear testes and 24 missile tests in 2016.

While the total number of coal imported appears to be well below the annual quota, when the December data is included China reaches the upper limit of coal restrictions, the South Korean official said.

Despite the saber-rattling, official sources told Reuters that the White House intends to pursue "low-risk" options like sanctions and diplomatic pressure before considering preemptive military strikes on North Korea.

  • Leroy Wright