World

White House: 'North Korea has been a flagrant menace'

US president slams North Korea after yet another missile launch

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump called for tougher sanctions on North Korea after it fired a ballistic missile yesterday in an apparent bid to test the South's new liberal president and the US.

"Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea," the White House said in a brief statement.

The missile flew more than 700km before landing in the sea in an area surrounded by the Korean peninsula, Japan and the Russian far east.

It was fired from a site near the north-western city of Kusong.

A previous test at the same site in February sent a missile 500km, far less than the latest launch.

It impacted "so close to Russian soil... the president cannot imagine that Russia is pleased," the White House said.

North Korea "has been a flagrant menace for far too long," it said.

Multiple sets of UN and US sanctions against North Korea have done little to deter Pyongyang from pursuing its nuclear and missile ambitions.

Mr Trump has threatened military action against the North but recently appeared to have softened his stance, saying he would be "honoured" to meet leader Mr Kim Jong Un under the right conditions.

Washington has been looking to China for help in reining in Mr Kim and the missile test is likely to embarrass Beijing, which is hosting the Silk Road summit.

China, the isolated North's sole major ally and economic lifeline, has been reluctant to exert pressure to upset the status quo in Pyongyang and risk an influx of refugees from its neighbour.

"Relevant Security Council resolutions have clear rules about North Korea using ballistic missile technology to carry out launches," China's foreign ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters.

"China opposes relevant launch activities by North Korea that are contrary to Security Council resolutions.

"At present the situation on the peninsula is complex and sensitive, and all relevant parties should exercise restraint and do nothing to further worsen regional tensions."

South Korean President Moon Jae In, who was inaugurated on Wednesday, slammed the missile test as a "reckless provocation" (see story on left).

"The North is apparently trying to test Moon and see how his North Korea policy as well as policy coordination between the South and the US will take shape," said Mr Yang Moo Jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

North KoreaChinaunited states