SOUTH Korea says North Korea’s latest missile launch threatens the entire world but US President Donald Trump is with ‘the boys’ for a long Easter weekend.
Trump flew down to his golf course at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach on Thursday afternoon, without his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus or other key advisers.
In an Instagram picture the US president is dressed in a white Trump polo shirt with a matching Make America Great Again hat in a group photo.
‘Saturday is still in fact for the boys,’ the caption read.
It is his 11th weekend trip in a row to a Trump-owned property as South Korea threatens punitive action on North Korea if today’s failed missile launch leads to further provocations such as a nuclear test or a long-range missile launch.
“North Korea showing a variety of offensive missiles at yesterday’s military parade and daring to fire a ballistic missile today is a show of force that threatens the whole world,” South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement today.
A North Korean missile “blew up almost immediately” on its test launch on Sunday (7.21 AEST), the US Pacific Command said, hours before US Vice President Mike Pence was due in South Korea for talks on the North’s increasingly defiant arms program.
Pence arrived in Seoul this afternoon for the start of a four-nation Asia-Pacific tour, seeking to reassure allies in the face of a belligerent North Korea.
North Korea launched the ballistic missile less than a day after threatening the US with ‘nuclear justice’.
Both the US Pacific Command and South Korea’s military said on Sunday the North had attempted to fire a ballistic missile and failed.
The failed launch was at 7.21am AEST.
“US Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at
11.21am Hawaii local time April 15,” the statement read.
“The launch of the ballistic missile occurred near Sinpo.
“The missile blew up almost immediately. The type of missile is still being assessed.
“US Pacific Command is fully committed to working closely with our allies in the Republic of Korea and in Japan to maintain security.
US President Donald Trump and Mike Pence have been briefed on the situation.
“The president and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch, a statement from US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis read.
“The president has no further comment.”
South Korea’s military also detected the failed launch.
“North Korea attempted to test an unidentified type of missile from Sinpo area in the South Hamkyong Province this morning, but we suspect the launch has failed,” South Korea’s defence ministry said in a statement.
Sinpo is on the east coast of North Korea.
South Korea’s military said they would continue to analyse the test for more details.
The launch attempt came after North Korea held a huge parade displaying nearly 60 missiles, including what is suspected to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile, for the 105th anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung, his grandson Kim Jong-un has threatened “nuclear justice”.
One of Kim’s top spokespeople, Choe Ryong Hae, today vowed North Korea would “beat down enemies with the power of nuclear justice”.
As scores turned out to celebrate what would be Kim’s 105th birthday, Mr Choe told the packed-out square: “If the United States wages reckless provocation against us, our revolutionary power will instantly counter with annihilating strike, and we will respond to full out war with full out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike warfare.”
North Korea paraded its intercontinental ballistic missiles in a massive military display in central Pyongyang.
The parade, the annual highlight of North Korea’s most important holiday, came amid growing international worries that North Korea may be preparing for its sixth nuclear test or a major missile launch, such as its first flight test of an ICBM capable of reaching US shores.
North Korea’s vice foreign minister said that US President Donald Trump’s tweets — he recently tweeted, for example, that the North is “looking for trouble” — have inflamed tensions.
“Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words,” Han Song Ryol said.
US officials said that the Trump administration had settled on a policy that will emphasise increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of China, North Korea’s only major ally, instead of military options or trying to overthrow Kim’s regimen.
However, John Bolton, America’s former ambassador to the UN, said piling on pressure wouldn’t work and that the US needed China’s help to try and bring North and South Korea back together.
“I don’t think a strategy that relies on pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons is going to work,” he told Fox News. “Look, we’ve tried for 25 years across Republican and Democratic administrations to persuade the North Koreans to give up their quest for nuclear weapons.
“We’ve tried persuasion, it’s failed, we’ve tried coercion, it’s failed.”
He said Kim Jong-un’s nuclear program helped the regime’s “long-term viability”.
“The fact is, this regimen is never going to voluntarily give up nuclear weapons, they’re the ace in the hole,” he said. “Actually what our objectives should be and what we need to do is explain to China that it’s in their interest (to see North Korean regimen collapse), despite years of policy to the contrary.
“It’s in their interest to see North and South Korea reunited in a sensible way, that would end the North Korean nuclear weapons program and in my view that’s the only way it’s going to happen,” he said.
A US military official, who requested anonymity to discuss planning, said the United States doesn’t intend to use military force against North Korea in response to either a nuclear test or a missile launch.
Kim, wearing a suit and tie, was greeted Saturday with thunderous — and extensively practised — applause as he stepped into view on a large podium, clapping to acknowledge the thousands of soldiers and civilians taking part in the parade at Kim Il Sung Square.
A series of what appeared to be KN-08 missiles were among the weapons rolled out on trucks. Analysts say the missiles could one day be capable of hitting targets as far as the continental United States, although North Korea has yet to flight test them.
Kim Jong Un, a 30-something leader who took power in late 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, emphasises nuclear weapons as the foundation of his national defence strategy. Under his watch, North Korea has aggressively pursued a goal of putting a nuclear warhead on an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland.
In his annual New Year’s address, Kim said North Korea’s preparations for an ICBM launch had “reached the final stage.”
North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year alone, advancing its goal to make nuclear weapons small enough to fit on long-range missiles.
The North also last year launched a long-range rocket that put a satellite into orbit, which Washington, Seoul and others saw as a banned test of missile technology.