Sat | Aug 19, 2017

North Korea test-fires missile, apparently challenging Trump

Published:Monday | February 13, 2017 | 2:00 AM
A man watches a TV news programme showing file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with letters reading 'The North fired a missile' at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP):

In an implicit challenge to United States (US) President Donald Trump, North Korea appeared to fire a ballistic missile early yesterday in what would be its first such test of the year.

After receiving word of the launch, Trump stood at his south Florida estate with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who called the move "intolerable".

There was no immediate confirmation on the launch from the North, which had warned recently that it was ready to test its first intercontinental ballistic missile. The US Strategic Command, however, said that it detected and tracked what it assessed to be a medium- or intermediate-range missile.

North Korean media are often slow to announce such launches - if they announce them at all. As of Sunday evening, there had been no official announcement, and most North Koreans went about their day with no inkling that the launch had been major international news.

The reports of the launch came as Trump was hosting Abe and just days before the North is to mark the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un's late father, Kim Jong Il.

Appearing with Trump at a news conference at Trump's estate, Abe condemned the missile launch as "absolutely intolerable".

Abe read a brief statement in which he called on the North to comply fully with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. He said that Trump had assured him of US support and that Trump's presence showed the president's determination and commitment.

Trump followed Abe with even fewer words, saying in part: "I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 per cent."

Stephen Miller, Trump's chief policy adviser, said that Trump and Abe had displayed "an important show of solidarity" between their nations.

"The message we're sending to the world right now is a message of strength and solidarity. We stand with Japan and we stand with our allies in the region to address the North Korean menace," Miller said during an interview on Sunday with ABC's This Week.