North Korea's latest launch a fizzer, but main players remain tight-lipped

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 17, 2017

One day earlier, North Korea conducted a massive military parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the April 15 anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung's birthday.

Pledging that the USA commitment to South Korea has never been stronger, Vice President Mike Pence is set to meet on Monday with the nation's acting president, the day after North Korea launched a missile that blew up nearly immediately. He will also aim to reassure allies in South Korea and Japan that the US will take appropriate steps to defend them against North Korean aggression.

A North Korean missile "blew up nearly immediately" on its test launch on Sunday, the U.S. Pacific Command said, hours before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was due in South Korea for talks on the North's increasingly defiant arms program.

"We weren't surprised by it, we were anticipating it", the foreign policy adviser said.

Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, is citing Trump's recent decision to order missile strikes in Syria after a chemical attack blamed on the Assad government as a sign that the president "is clearly comfortable making tough decisions".

U.S. officials told CNN they did not believe the missile had intercontinental capabilities, and blew up nearly immediately after launch.

"We stand alongside our worldwide partners in making clear that North Korea must adhere to United Nations resolutions created to secure peace and stability in the region and stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons", he said.

The joint U.S. -South Korean military.

Trump acknowledged on Sunday that the softer line he had taken on China's management of its currency was linked to Beijing's help on the North Korea issue.

He didn't respond to the missile firing but posted on Twitter Sunday morning: "Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?" He says the Trump administration hopes their clarity will be received in North Korea, adding the US and its allies will achieve its objectives through "peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary" to protect South Korea and stabilize the region.

"You know we can't talk about secret intelligence and things that might have been done, covert operations that might have happened", McFarland, who was at Trump's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida and briefed him Saturday night on the launch, told Fox News. "And so it's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully".

But playing brinksmanship is the relationship state wherein the US and North Korea now find themselves.

But McMaster, who was speaking from Kabul, Afghanistan, acknowledged the likelihood of North Korean retaliation if Washington uses military force in an attempt to stop its weapons programs.

The North has warned of a nuclear strike against the United States if provoked.

It is said that the Trump administration adopted "maximum pressure and engagement" as its North Korea policy.

Experts believe the North is yet to develop nuclear devices small enough to fit on ballistic missiles, a process called "miniaturisation".

Despite UN sanctions North Korea launched a long-range rocket and carried out two nuclear tests in 2016, including its most powerful bomb to date.

He says there was a "period of patience" over the years but "the era of strategic patience is over". "As long as we have Marshall Kim Jong Un we can win any fight".

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