Tensions over a possible armed and bloody conflict between North Korea and the United States and its allies reached a new pitch on Saturday after the dictator-ruled Asian nation launched yet another ballistic missile, which was seen as a failure because it exploded shortly after lift-off.
Reacting to the launch, US President Donald Trump said on Twitter that North Korea had "disrespected the wishes of China." Trump had said earlier that a "major conflict" between the US and North Korea was "absolutely" possible.
Launch and failure
South Korean and US Army sources said North Korea test-firing a ballistic missile that failed on Saturday, April 29, was the second such instance in a fortnight. The missile was put into air from a site located within the South Pyeongan province of North Korea in the early hours of Saturday before it exploded and disintegrated mid-air.
The previous such instance of a missile launch from North Korea was on Sunday, April 16. Sources had said back then that the missile "blew up almost immediately" after launch.
"The North attempted to launch an unidentified missile from near the Sinpo region this morning, but it is suspected to have failed," South Korea's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had said in a statement about that attempt.
Tensions hit new pitch
Saturday's failed launch by North Korea was followed by a tweet from US President Trump that said: "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad! [sic]"
As is evident from Trump's tweets, he has put a lot of faith in China in their joint efforts to keep North Korea in check. He had said in a tweet on April 13: "I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A. [sic]"
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However, the US is apparently not reposing its entire faith on China. It has moved the THAAD anti-missile system and positioned it in South Korea, while its warships are also either on their way or are already stationed nearby in the event that North Korea launches an attack. Saturday's missile launch — albeit the failure — gives every indication that North Korea may be planning for exactly such an attack.