The US says it “strongly condemns” North Korea’s latest missile test, and promised an “overwhelming” military response if the country was to successfully launch a nuclear weapon.
The test of a powerful mid-range missile on Thursday morning was Pyongyang’s second failed launch in a week and the fifth time the country has tested missiles in the past two months.
Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said: “We strongly condemn last night’s attempt, which even in failing, violated several UN Security Council resolutions.”
Speaking at a joint press conference with his South Korean counterpart, Han Min-Koo, Mr Carter added: “Make no mistake: Any attack on America or our allies will not only be defeated, but any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an overwhelming and effective response.”
The Musudan ballistic missile, which North Korea has been test firing near the western city of Kusong, has a theoretical range of between 1,500 and 2,500 miles.
This means Kim Jong-un’s administration could potentially hit targets anywhere in South Korea or Japan and could also hit US military bases on the Western Pacific island of Guam.
The threat saw Secretary of State John Kerry announce plans to deploy a missile defence system to South Korea “as soon as possible”.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system (THAAD) is able to shoot down short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles.
China has strongly objected to the deployment of the missile defence system, saying it would impact the country’s own strategic defence capabilities.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, who was speaking in Washington ahead of the failed missile test, said Pyongyang was nearing the “final stage of nuclear weaponisation”.
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He said South Koreas’s allies would mobilize “all tools in the toolkit” to defend themselves.