North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Off East Coast, South Korean Officials Say

The projectile was sacked into the East Sea early Wednesday and flew about 37 miles, South Korea's joint chiefs of staff said in a text message.

The U.S. Pacific Command said it detected and tracked what it assessed as North Korean missile launched from land near the eastern coastal city of Sinpo.

The launch comes just days after Pyongyang said it planned to mark two key anniversaries this month as "big" political events, and just days before President Trump meets with China's Xi Jinping - with North Korea at the top of the agenda.

North Korea successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile last summer, adding another weapon to North Korea's arsenal.

The official said the United States is weighing secondary sanctions against Chinese companies conducting business with North Korea in violation of existing USA and UN sanctions. North Korea unveiled a new mid-range ballistic missile in February based on SLBM technology, signaling the North's capabilities are improving.

Last year North Korea conducted two nuclear weapons tests and 24 missile tests.

Initial assessments indicate it was a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile, the statement said.

Trump will not explicitly detail potential USA retributions against China if it refuses to act, the official said, noting that the president "is not someone who wants to broadcast all of the ins and outs of his strategy in advance".

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

Trump indicated that trade could serve as an incentive for China to work with the US on North Korea. Many weapons experts say the North could have a functioning nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental USA within a few years.

The North Koreans kept this agreement, and in 1998 South Korean president Kim Dae Jung began his Sunshine Policy aimed at lessening tensions and building reconciliation between North and South Korea.

"And China has great influence over North Korea", he said. North Korea's state media has also said the world will soon witness what it calls "eventful successes" the country achieves in the space development.

The presidential office also convened an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting to discuss the latest missile test and possible additional provocations including a nuclear test going forward.

The North has denounced the joint military exercises as a dress rehearsal for northward invasion.

  • Larry Hoffman