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Abe, Trump show unity in condemning North Korea missile test

17 February 2017, 05:47 | Taylor George

Abe, Trump show unity in condemning North Korea missile test

Kim Hyon Hui a North Korean who bombed a Korean Air Lines jet in 1987 confesses at a press conference in Seoul South Korea

While Abe condemned the test as "absolutely intolerable", the USA president responded by stating that "America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100%".

The missile was launched toward the Sea of Japan as that country's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, met with Trump at his Florida resort - a move South Korea's military described as a "show of force" to the new president.

A US Strategic Command spokesperson later confirmed this, identifying the missile as a medium- or intermediate-range ballistic one that did not pose a threat to the United States.

"We can confirm that we did detect a missile launch from North Korea", the official said.

Analysts are divided, however, over how close the North is to having a reliable long-range rocket that could be coupled with a nuclear warhead capable of striking U.S. targets. While submarines are also a stealthy way to do that, North Korea doesn't have enough of them.

FURIOUS Foreign Office top brass blasted the North Korean ambassador yesterday over the pariah state's "provocative" ballistic missile test.

Most of North Korea's missiles now use liquid propellant, which usually needs to be added on a launch pad before the weapon is fired.

In a statement Monday, Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the United Nations secretary-general, said: "The Secretary-General strongly condemns the launch of another ballistic missile by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 12 February".

Former North Korean spy Kim Hyon Hui attends a news conference in Busan South Korea in 2009

Trump has vowed to prevent North Korea from developing the capability to strike the US with a missile, though the administration hasn't yet announced a detailed North Korea policy.

If true, it would be a big step forward in North Korea's quest to boost its ability to attack the United States and its close allies, South Korea and Japan.

North Korea's pursuit of large solid-fuelled missiles was "a very concerning development", said Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Trump had been briefed on the missile launch, and the White House is continuing to monitor the situation, a White House official said on Saturday.

Shi Yuanhua, a Korean studies professor at Shanghai's Fudan University, said that from Pyongyang's perspective, it was a good time to launch a missile because the new US administration hadn't decided what approach to take with North Korea, and Beijing was at odds with Washington and Seoul over the anti-missile system.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. And many suspect it will test a missile capable of reaching the continental USA later this year.

The National Security Council convened an emergency meeting to discuss the missile test on Sunday. The Trump administration mentioned that further sanctions were still likely, a statement welcomed by observers in South Korea.

Once fully developed, a North Korean ICBM could threaten the continental United States, which is about 9,000 km (5,500 miles) from North Korea.

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