Sci-tech

Pence aims to reassure allies amid North Korea threat

Pence aims to reassure allies amid North Korea threat

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - A North Korean missile exploded during launch Sunday, U.S. and South Korean officials said, a high-profile failure that comes as a powerful U.S. aircraft supercarrier approaches the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.

The U.S. had good intelligence both before and after the launch, said a White House foreign policy adviser traveling with Vice President Mike Pence, who arrived in Seoul in the afternoon to start a 10-day trip to Asia.

North Korea launched a long-range rocket and conducted two nuclear tests a year ago, including its most powerful to date. US military officials have said the USA doesn't intend to use force in response to either a nuclear test or a missile launch by the North. Kim's No. 2 official accused Trump of "creating a war situation" and said the North "will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack".

The adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's initial understanding of the launch, said there was no expected response from the Trump administration because there was no need for the U.S.to reinforce the failure.

The official said that had it been a nuclear test, "other actions would have been taken by the U.S". The administration's immediate emphasis, the officials said, will be on increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of Beijing. China is North Korea's only major ally.

The launch comes one day after North Korea revealed several new weapons systems, including what appear to be new intercontinental ballistic missile models (ICBM), during a military parade in Pyongyang.

According to the adviser, the test had been expected and the USA had good intelligence both before and after the launch.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pointed to nuclear weapons as the foundation of his national defense strategy and has openly sought a nuclear weapon that could strike the continental U.S. Analysts have said commercial satellite images from recent weeks indicate increased activity around the nuclear test site in northern North Korea.

Pence's first trip to South Korea will carry personal meaning as well.

Any U.S. military strike risks leading to a war between the world's biggest economies that would threaten to devastate South Korea and Japan, two American allies in striking range of retaliatory attacks.

"The North attempted to launch an unidentified missile from near the Sinpo region this morning but it is suspected to have failed", the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

The White House expects South Korean officials to discuss responses during Pence's visit, and he also plans to meet troops and discuss possible military steps with Army General Vincent Brooks, the commander of United States Forces Korea.

The Global Times, a Communist Party-affiliated Chinese newspaper, argued in an editorial this week that Beijing should support stiffer United Nations sanctions against North Korea, including the limit of oil exports, if the country conducts another another nuclear test.


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