US President Donald Trump has told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Washington will continue to build its military capability to take on the threat posed by North Korea's repeated nuclear arms tests.
"Unlike the KN-15, which uses solid fuel, the missile fired Wednesday used liquid fuel and was sacked from a fixed location, rather than a mobile launcher", the official said. Many weapons experts say the North could have a functioning nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental USA within a few years.
Some experts think North Korea has tried to make sure the two world leaders are aware Pyongyang has a bargaining chip in any forthcoming moves to clam down on its weapons programs. And the Trump administration, like administrations before it, views North Korea's pursuit of intercontinental missiles capable of reaching San Francisco or Los Angeles as a justification for war.
President Donald Trump welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida Thursday, where the two are set to discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons program among other issues.
But unlike the KN-15, which uses solid fuel, the missile fired Wednesday used liquid fuel and was sacked from a fixed location, rather than a mobile launcher, the official said.
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North Korea has stepped up its weapons programme since Kim Jong-un assumed power five years ago, conducting a record number of nuclear and missile tests in 2016, and underscoring his regime's decision to use nuclear deterrence to ensure its survival.
The North's latest launch came as outside satellite imagery show possible preparations for a new nuclear test at the North's main nuclear test site, such as communication cables used to initiate a test and collect data being already laid.
Trump has repeatedly said he wants China to do more to exert its economic influence over its unpredictable ally in Pyongyang to restrain its nuclear and missile programmes but China denies it has any overriding influence on North Korea.
The North's latest missile launch also came during annual military drills between the United States and South Korea. The last successful attempt was on March 6, when North Korea fired four missiles at the same time, also into the same waters - the Sea of Japan (or as Koreans prefer to call it, the "East Sea").