Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

This photo taken on February 12, 2017 and released on February 13 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the launch of a surface-to-surface medium long-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 at an undisclosed location.

Seoul has also approved a trip to North Korea by the South's women's soccer team to take part qualifiers for the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup.

USA and South Korean officials said earlier that North Korea fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters Wednesday.

The initial USA 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.

The test comes just days before Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with President Donald Trump in Florida, during which North Korea is expected to be a major point of discussion.

Topping the agenda of the U.S.

Hayden went on to call North Korea the intelligence community's biggest challenge.

In February the North simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles off its east coast, three of which fell provocatively close to Japan.

The east coast port of Sinpo is home to a known North Korean submarine base.

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

The North is believed to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can hit the United States and its leader, Kim Jong Un, has vowed to test-launch one at any time.

"North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. We have no further comment", U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a terse statement.

U.S. Pacific Command's initial assessments indicate the type of missile was a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile.

North Korea sent its female football players to South Korea for the Women's East Asian Cup in July 2013 in the midst of frayed ties sparked by the North's temporary closure of a joint industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong.

Past year the North launched three submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) from the Sinpo area.

The North also conducted two nuclear tests past year, and experts have said satellite imagery shows it is ready to carry out another one at any time.

The Japanese government estimated the projectile did not land within its exclusive economic zone, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in a briefing Wednesday morning.

The launch will fuel global concerns about the hermit state's weapons programme.

  • Leroy Wright