Published: Tue, August 29, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Tillerson slams N.Korea missile test but still seeks talks

Tillerson slams N.Korea missile test but still seeks talks

North Korea launched at least three ballistic missiles into the east Sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Saturday morning, resuming a provocative act despite Washington's diplomacy-first approach toward the rogue regime.

The US Pacific Command revised its initial assessment that the first and third short-range missiles failed on Saturday during flight, to say they flew about 155 miles.

The North earlier threatened to shoot four intermediate-range ballistic missiles toward the US territory of Guam.

The launches were conducted as the annual US-South Korea joint military drills, known as "Ulchi Freedom Guardian", were being held in South Korea.

They are the first known missile firings since July, when the North successfully flight tested a pair of intercontinental ballistic missiles that analysts say could reach deep into the USA mainland when perfected.

"The reality vividly shows that the USA ambition for stifling [North Korea] remains unchanged no matter how much water may flow under the bridge and the puppet group's ambition for invading the north remains unchanged", the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

Missile experts say there's no indication the rocket has been fully developed, but such a weapon could strike all of the US mainland.

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"We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment and we will provide a public update if warranted", Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for Pacific Command, said in a statement. The launch came days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations were due to discuss steps to rein in North Korea's weapons programme, which it has pursued in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

The missiles reportedly landed in North Korean waters about 250km away.

North Korean state-run media said the country's military could strike the U.S. at any time and that neither Guam, Hawaii nor the USA mainland could avoid the "merciless strike". "We do view it as a provocative act, a provocative act against the United States and our allies".

The statement said: "We solemnly warn not only the U.S. and the puppet group but also satellites, including the United Kingdom and Australia, which are taking advantage of the present war manoeuvres against the North, that they would face a miserable end if they join in".

And then two more were fired within the next half an hour.

A televised announcement said a Hwasong-14 missile was tested on Tuesday and reached an altitude of 2,802km (1,731 miles) and flew 933km (580 miles), before landing in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The rival Koreas recently saw their always testy relationship get worse after Pyongyang and President Donald Trump traded warlike threats.

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