North Korean test missile explodes on launch

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South Korea said on Sunday North Korea's latest missile launch threatened the entire world, warning of a punitive action if it leads to further provocations such as a nuclear test or a long-range missile launch.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Trump and his military team "are aware of North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch".

While the North did not conduct a nuclear test, the specter of a potential escalated USA response trailed Pence as he began a 10-day trip to Asia.

With speculation mounting that the North is preparing to conduct a sixth nuclear test, he sent an aircraft carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula - a pointed gesture in the wake of the recent U.S. missile strike on Syria. "And our president will take action that is in the best interest of the American people", he said. The administration's immediate emphasis, they said, was to be on increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of Beijing.

The group said the leaflets contained all the details of the assassination of Kim Jong-nam which occurred at Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13, as well as criticism of the Pyongyang regime.

Soldiers march across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade on Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung, the country's late founder and grandfather of current ruler Kim Jong Un. He will aim to reassure allies in South Korea and Japan that the USA will take appropriate steps to defend them against North Korean aggression.

He said: "We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack".

"It's a failed test". He has repeatedly declared that if China, North Korea's dominant trading partner, isn't willing to do more to squeeze the North, the USA might take the matter into its own hands.

State-owned China International Travel Service (CITS) and online travel company Ctrip.com have halted selling travel packages to North Korea, reported the South China Morning Post on Sunday, along with other Chinese tour operators.

"We stand alongside our global partners in making clear that North Korea must adhere to United Nations resolutions created to secure peace and stability in the region and stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons", he said.

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The status of the North Korean underground nuclear test program is unchanged, a senior United States defense official told CNN, and a test could come at any time.

Ahead of Pence's arrival, North Korea's vice foreign minister told The Associated Press in an interview that Trump was the culprit of escalating tensions through his tweets and expansion of military exercises, arguing that the USA was becoming "more vicious and more aggressive" under Trump compared to his predecessor.

China banned imports of North Korean coal on February 26, cutting off its most important export.

Pence, addressing an Easter service with American troops in South Korea, said the USA commitment to South Korea was unwavering. "Our commitment to this historic alliance with the courageous people of South Korea has never been stronger, and with your help and with God's help, freedom will ever prevail on this peninsula", he said.

But a White House foreign policy adviser travelling with Pence played down Sunday's test, saying the missile - probably a medium-range one - failed after about four to five seconds.

The North regularly launches short-range missiles, but is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland.

"Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?"

Pyongyang has carried out five nuclear tests -- two of them previous year -- and multiple missile launches, one of which saw three rockets come down in waters provocatively close to Japan last month.

Worry about North Korea has also strained ties between China and South Korea because China objects to the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in the South.

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