Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

North Korea 'ready for nuclear attack' (Second Lead)

North Korea 'ready for nuclear attack' (Second Lead)

North Korea displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles on the 105th birth anniversary of its founding father, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday, as a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region.

Such pageantry reinforces the cult of personality around the Kim family, three of whom have ruled North Korea with a vice-like grip.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Han's remarks on the North's readiness to conduct a nuclear test and even go to war reveal the "true colors of North Korea's government that is bellicose and a breaker of regulations".

The US president has recently demonstrated his willingness to resort to military methods, according to BBC.

South Korea's military also detected the failed launch.

And on the same day, a top North Korean official offered a warning to the US, accusing President Trump of "creating a war situation".

The failed launch was at 7.21am AEST. The report included no further details on the call between State Councilor Yang and Tillerson.

North Korea says it's created a nuclear weapon small enough to mount on a missile, though many experts dispute that claim.

South Korean and United States intelligence officials are trying to determine what type of missile was used Sunday, but initial reports said it could be a medium-range missile, according to a White House foreign policy adviser.

According to the adviser, the US had good intelligence both before and after the launch.

Pence is due in Seoul at the start of a 10-day trip to Asia in what his aides said was a sign of the U.S. commitment to its ally in the face of rising tension.

No planned response is expected from the Trump administration because the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's initial understanding of the launch, said there was no need for the reinforce the failure.

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.

Speculation that it could conduct a sixth blast in the coming days to coincide with the anniversary has reached fever pitch, with specialist U.S. website 38North describing its Punggye-ri test site as "primed and ready" and White House officials saying military options were "already being assessed".

The timing of the test, coinciding with Pence's trip and a day after the military parade, would suggest deliberate defiance.

It wasn't immediately clear what kind of missile was test-fired from the east coast city of Sinpo.

Pence is the son of a Korean War veteran and displays his late father's Bronze Star in his office.

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

"The president has no further comment".

Trump has been leaning on China to put pressure on North Korea, but has also threatened to take on the country alone if necessary. China - the North's sole major ally and economic lifeline - yesterday warned that war over North Korea could break out "at any moment". "If they are unable to do so, the USA, with its allies, will!" he tweeted Thursday.

It wasn't immediately clear what kind of missile was sacked from the city of Sinpo, but the failure will sting in Pyongyang because it comes a day after one of the biggest North Korean propaganda events of the year- celebrations of the 105th birthday of late North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader's grandfather.

"China is ready to coordinate closely with Russia to help cool down as quickly as possible the situation on the peninsula and encourage the parties concerned to resume dialogue", Wang told Lavrov, referring to the stalled six- party talks on the North's nuclear programme that includes Russia, China and the United States. Neither military knew what kind of missile was sacked.

The parade also featured the North's submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) for the first time. USA retaliatory strikes earlier this month against Syria over a chemical weapons attack on civilians, coupled with Trump's dispatching of what he called an "armada" of ships to the region, touched off fears in South Korea that the United States was preparing for military action against the North. Pyongyang has also expressed anger over the ongoing annual spring military exercises the U.S. holds with South Korea, which it considers a rehearsal for invasion.

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