World leaders react to North Korea firing missile into Sea of Japan

The match comes as the North's nuclear ambitions top the agenda at a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that follows Pyongyang's latest missile launch this week, in violation of United Nations resolutions and condemned by the Security Council.

The Kim Jong-un regime conducted two nuclear tests and fired two dozen missiles previous year.

The drill began a day after US President Donald Trump warned that Washington would act unilaterally to deal with Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs if China, the North's main ally, proved unwilling to help. The North conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile tests a year ago, defying six Security Council sanctions resolutions banning any testing.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul confirmed that the missile was launched from Sinpo, South Hamgyong province, eastern North Korea, at 6.40 local time, Efe news reported.

"US Pacific Command is fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security", the military command in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region said.

If fired from South Korea's southernmost province of Jeju, the missile can reach northernmost North Korean city of Sinuiju, the South Korean news agency added.

North Korea are suspected of firing a missile into the Sea of Japan.

But that could anger China, according to Mark Lippert, the former USA ambassador to South Korea. North Korea opened the qualifying campaign with a 8-0 victory over India on Monday.

In his brief, nationally televised remarks, Abe said Trump had told him that all options were on the table regarding how to handle North Korea. Many South Korean experts say "Pukguksong-2" missile would be a greater security threat because it can be launched anywhere from a ground-based mobile vehicle.

Tensions have escalated over North Korean moves to accelerate its weapons development.

"I've joked before that they don't mind being hated but they definitely hate to be ignored", he said.

North Korea's latest missile launch on Wednesday was "extremely problematic", and Japan had lodged a strong protest over its nuclear-armed neighbour, Japan's top government spokesperson said.

North Korea has repeatedly fired missiles since February and just failed with a launch on March 22.

The test comes as South Korea, Japan and the United States wrap up trilateral naval military drills off the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a terse response to the North's latest provocation, saying "the United States has spoken enough about North Korea".

We're now waiting to see what approach the Trump administration takes towards North Korea.

  • Leroy Wright