North Korea Fired Ballistic Missile Into Sea, U.S. Military Says

The launch comes just ahead of a meeting between Trump and China's president, where adding pressure on North Korea to drop its arms development will take center stage.

A woman watches a television screen showing an image of Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, center, during a news broadcast on North Korea's nuclear test at Gimhae International Airport in Busan, South Korea, on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on Friday, the anniversary of the reclusive nation's founding, and said it was now able to produce miniaturized nuclear arms.
SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

North Korea launched a missile that landed in the Sea of Japan, the U.S. military's Pacific Command said in a statement on Tuesday, ahead of a summit between U.S. and Chinese leaders who are set to discuss Pyongyang's arms program.  

Initial assessments indicate it was a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile, the statement said. It was launched from a land-based facility near Sinpo, a port city on the North's east coast. South Korea's military said earlier the missile flew about 60 kilometers (40 miles).

The launch comes just ahead of a summit meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping this week where adding pressure on the North to drop its arms development will take center stage.

Any launch of objects using the ballistic missile technology is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, but North Korea has defied the ban as infringement of its sovereign rights to self defense and pursuit of space exploration. 

North Korea attempted to launch a ballistic missile two weeks ago from its east coast and earlier in March fired four missiles toward Japan, some of which came as close as 300 kilometers (190 miles) to Japan's coast. 

The reclusive state has also conducted two nuclear weapons tests since January 2016. 

North Korea is believed to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit the United States. Its leader, Kim Jong Un, has vowed to test-launch one at any time. 

Experts and officials in South Korea and the United States believe Pyongyang is still some time away from mastering all the technology needed for an operational ICBM system, such as re-entry of the atmosphere and subsequent missile guidance. 

Topping the agenda of the U.S.-China summit in Florida will be whether Trump will make good on his threat to use crucial trade ties with China to pressure Beijing to do more to rein in the nuclear-armed North. 

A senior U.S. White House official said Trump's meeting with Xi was a test for the U.S.-Chinese relationship and that Trump wants economic ties that are fair, balanced and based on reciprocity.