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North Korea surprises with display of new missiles

18 April 2017

In brief remarks to reporters, Mr. Pence praised the "unshakable bond" between the USA and South Korea. A North Korean missile exploded during launch Sunday from the country's east.

North Korea launched a long-range rocket and conducted two nuclear tests a year ago, including its most powerful to date, and there have been a slew of shorter range missile firings.

A TV screen shows file footage of North Korea's ballistic missiles, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, April 16, 2017.

Sunday's launch comes a day after the 105th birthday of late North Korea founder Kim Il Sung.

Solid-fuel missiles can be launched with less preparation and require fewer support vehicles than liquid-fuel missiles.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said "the era of strategic patience is over", while also saying the U.S. seeks security "through peaceable means", as he visited the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the border between North and South Korea on Monday.

Pence is the highest ranking US official to visit the DMZ since former President Barack Obama did so in 2012.

Trump is still willing to consider military action, including a sudden strike, to counteract North Korea's series of destabilizing actions, said two people familiar with the White House's thinking.

Despite all the displays on Saturday, analysts cautioned against overreaction, noting that North Korea's missile tests have had a checkered record of success, and adding that a missile in a parade does not necessarily mean it's operational. And it will continue developing its nuclear program and conduct its next nuclear test whenever its leaders see fit.

After the rogue state ran a missile test that failed, Lieutenant General HR McMaster said "all our options are on the table" to try to "avoid the worst".

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The North regularly launches short-range missiles, but is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland. The North was deemed to have completed preparations for another underground detonation, possibly to coincide with the birthday of late national founder Kim Il-sung on Saturday, while a U.S. air carrier strike group is en route to South Korea after altering its initial itinerary from Singapore to Australia.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff did not provide details of the launch, and it was not immediately clear what type of missile was sacked.

Pence's remarks at an Easter Service with American troops based in South Korea came after North Korea launched a missile off its east coast.

But Han said it was prepared for provocative acts.

"The people of North Korea, the military of North Korea, should not mistake the resolve of the United States of America to stand with our allies", Pence said, amid growing concerns about Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes. North Korea is thought to have a small arsenal of atomic bombs and an impressive array of short- and medium-range missiles.

The United States has nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea and is keen to see the project fully deployed.

Lu said Beijing wants to resume the multi-party negotiations that ended in stalemate in 2009 and suggested that USA plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China.

Part of his mission will be to reassure allies in South Korea and Japan that the US will defend them against North Korean aggression without acting in a way that might tip the region into open conflict.

In Seoul, South Korea's presidential office convened a national security council meeting to examine security postures.

In the midst of increasing tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, President Donald Trump this past week deployed the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, along with its associated strike group of vessels, to the waters near North Korea. A US aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, is heading to waters off Korea in a show of force.