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Seoul: North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast

North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test, just 48 hours before U.S. President Donald Trump is due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

"Japan never tolerates North Korea's repeated provocative actions".

Do the Donald Trump Korea policy statements over the last week or so - along with statements by Secretary of State Tillerson and others in the government and military - indicate the United States might be planning a preemptive military strike against Kim Jong-un and North Korea? The missile launch may be a precursor, with more to come as the summit starts Thursday, he said. Wednesday's missile appeared to be a KN-15, or Pukkuksong-2, a land-based version of the submarine-launched ballistic missile.

North Korea could also have used its latest missile launch to show that it won't back down to pressures by the Trump administration.

On Sunday, Trump held out the possibility of using trade as a lever to secure Chinese cooperation, while suggesting Washington might deal with Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs on its own if need be. Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Seoul's Institute for Far Eastern Studies, questioned why North Korea would do a shorter launch of the KN-15.

According to the FT, Trump said the USA could "totally" handle the situation in North Korea without assistance from the Chinese, but he declined to go into specifics. But Seoul has suspended nearly all civilian exchanges since a nuclear test by Pyongyang in January 2016, and amid a flurry of missile tests by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The North conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile tests previous year, defying six Security Council sanctions resolutions banning any testing.

Since then, games nominally hosted in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as the North is officially known, have had to be played on neutral ground due to authorities' reluctance to see the South's flag fluttering in their capital.

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"If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will", Trump told the newspaper.

A nuclear-capable SLBM system would take the North's threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a "second-strike" capability in the event of an attack on its army bases.

South Korea is protected under an American security umbrella and is home to thousands of USA troops.

The latest launch comes as South Korea and the USA wrap up their annual spring joint military exercises on the peninsula, which North Korea objects to because it views the drills as preparation for war.

"Before the end of President Trump's current term, the North Koreans will probably be able to reach Seattle with an indigenously produced nuclear weapon aboard an indigenously produced intercontinental ballistic missile", Michael Hayden, who served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency between 2006 to 2009, said Tuesday while speaking at Johns Hopkins University.

The North successfully fired four ballistic missiles simultaneously in Japan's direction in February - six months after test-firing a submarine-launched missile 500km towards its near-neighbour.

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