North Korea Fires Off Missile Before Trump's Meeting With China

The North has defied the ban, saying it infringes on its sovereign rights to self-defence and the pursuit of space exploration.

The White House reacted strongly to the launch and said that the clock is ticking for Pyongyang.

"Before the end of President Trump's current term, the North Koreans will probably be able to reach Seattle with an indigenously produced nuclear weapon aboard an indigenously produced intercontinental ballistic missile", Michael Hayden, who served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency between 2006 to 2009, said Tuesday while speaking at Johns Hopkins University.

Japan called the launch "provocative", while South Korea condemned it as "a blunt challenge" to the United Nations and "a threat to the peace and safety of the global community as well as the Korean peninsula".

However, without fundamentally addressing the unfair trade and investment practices Trump railed against during the campaign, the president will have given away his single most valuable asset - the ability to hold back a leader-level summit at his vacation home until Beijing truly delivers on USA demands such as opening its economy and pressuring North Korea.

Dollar and other experts said top targets for the United States' efforts to level the playing field will also include addressing China's abuse of U.S. intellectual property, high tariffs on certain goods and stricter labor standards that make Chinese manufacturer's more competitive.

How advanced is North Korea's nuclear programme?

Last week, Trump signed two executive orders that many interpreted as an attempt to set the tone ahead of his meeting with the Chinese president. -China summit in Florida, Trump had threatened to use crucial trade ties with China to pressure Beijing into more action on North Korea.

A senior U.S. White House official said Trump wanted to work with China and described the discussions over North Korea as a test for the U.S.

He told the committee that China is the definition of North Korea's backyard as economic links between the two countries has made Beijing an important player in curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests - including two a year ago - but experts said the country still hasn't developed nuclear warheads that can be mounted onto missiles.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile from Sinpo, the site of a North Korean submarine base.

"There is a possibility that the North may take it up a notch and stage another nuclear test. depending on the outcome of the summit".

This meeting, coinciding with a tense situation on the Korean Peninsula, has led to speculation of imminent provocations from North Korea.

"If this is the KN-15, North Korea is refining their solid fuel capabilities", says David Schmerler, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was relatively quiet on the testing, just confirming Pyongyang had launched "yet another" intermediate range ballistic missile.

Experts and officials in the South and the United States believe Pyongyang is still some time away from mastering all the technology needed for an operational ICBM system, such as re-entry into the atmosphere and subsequent missile guidance.

  • Leroy Wright