USA launches missile test

The Pentagon however, in the aftermath of Tuesday's successful intercept, says the USA now has a credible and capable means of defending itself from North Korea's missile threat. "They've got, we estimate, 5,000 tons of chemical warfare agents".

While Trump's repeated lauding of Chinese President Xi Jinping after their meeting in Florida in April raised questions among Asian allies about whether they could count on Washington as a shield against China's assertiveness, the Pentagon sought to counter that perception last week. "Action against North Korea would be based on valid, demonstrated capabilities we've seen", he said.

USA officials and diplomats say that in spite of Trump's overtures to Beijing, China still appears reluctant to agree to tougher sanctions unless North Korea escalates tensions further by conducting another nuclear test or a launch directly related to its ICBM program. The latest on Monday was the third in three weeks.

However, the statement made no mention of North Korea.

But there are limits to China's influence and its willingness to use it.

But despite U.S. calls for China to turn the screw, Beijing remains reluctant to impose biting economic pressure as it fears a North Korean collapse that would lead to instability on China's doorstep.

Despite UN and unilateral sanctions, North Korea has continued with its missile tests.

Washington's unrelenting pressure on Beijing over North Korea is, in part, a response to growing signs that the Obama administration's "pivot to Asia" - which was meant to isolate and militarily encircle China - is unravelling.

Like the US-led conflicts in the Middle East, North Korea's "weapons of mass destruction" and its gross human rights abuses have become convenient pretexts for preparing a war against a small, isolated and economically backward country.

"How should we respond in a way that actually stops these things or slows them down?" she added.

The Security Council has imposed six rounds of increasingly tough sanctions on North Korea. In an exclusive interview, retired General Tony McPeak said, "What needs to be stopped is the capability in North Korea, to attack US cities with nuclear weapons".

The Associated Press said the Pentagon calls the tactic "hitting a bullet with a bullet".

The agency called the operation "the first live-fire test event against an (intercontinental ballistic missile)-class target" of what's called the "Ground-based Midcourse Defense" element of the nation's ballistic missile defense system.

North Korea's state media earlier accused the United States of staging a drill to practise dropping nuclear bombs on the Korean peninsula.

The U.S. military fired an ICBM-type missile from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands toward the waters just south of Alaska.

Yet it is precisely dialogue that the Trump administration has ruled out, insisting that North Korea take steps to denuclearise before talks can even begin.

  • Leroy Wright