N.Korea fires ballistic missile, US says clock has now run out

Indo Asian News Service

Seoul, April 5 (IANS) North Korea fired an apparent ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, South Korea's military said on Wednesday.

The launch came hours after US President Donald Trump described North Korea's pursuit of a nuclear arsenal as a "humanity problem" and a senior US official told reporters that the "clock has now run out" on Pyongyang.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul confirmed that the missile was launched from Sinpo, south Hamgyong province in eastern North Korea.

They added that the launch was made from land and not from the sea, ruling out the possibility that it was a ballistic missile launched from a submarine (SLBM), as Pyongyang has launched before from the sea off the coast of Sinpo, where its main centre of development for these projectiles is located.

Wednesday's firing was made as South Korean and US troops were conducting annual military drills that North Korea views as an invasion rehearsal. North Korea often responds to the drills with its own military training and harsh rhetoric.

Two weeks ago, the South Korean and US militaries said they detected what they called a failed North Korean ballistic missile launch.

A White House official also said on Tuesday that "all options are on the table" for the US, though the official would not say what steps Trump was willing to take to curb dictator Kim Jong-un's pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

Seoul and Washington are currently analysing both the missile type and the possible range of the missile launched by Pyongyang, the Yonhap news agency reported, adding that it was most likely a KN-15 medium range ballistic missile.

This latest launch comes just ahead of US President Donald Trump receiving Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida for a meeting which will have North Korea as one of the main topics.

Trump has called on Beijing, Pyongyang's closest ally, to exert more pressure on Kim Jong-un's regime to abandon the development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

On March 6, the Pyongyang regime launched four medium-range ballistic missiles, three of which landed in Japan's Special Economic Zone, just 200 km off the archipelago's shores, and two other missile tests since then apparently failed.

--IANS

ahm/vt