The United States held a military exercise with South Korea yesterday as it warned that allied troops were prepared to go to war, in response to North Korea's successful test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could have the capability of striking US territory.
The show of force came as China again called for calm and restraint to prevent an escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
General Vincent Brooks, the top US military commander in South Korea, said the US and South Korea were prepared to go to war with the North if given the order.
In a Twitter post targeting China, US President Donald Trump noted that its trade with North Korea grew almost 40 per cent in the first quarter. He wrote: "So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!"
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Yesterday morning, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un taunted the Trump administration, saying the missile was for the US Independence Day on Tuesday.
"The American bas***** must be quite happy after closely watching our strategic decision," he was quoted as saying by the state's Korean Central News Agency.
It added that the Hwasong-14 was capable of hitting the "heart" of America with "large heavy nuclear warheads".
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that the North had fired an ICBM, and called on the international community to show the North there are consequences to its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon yesterday described the ICBM as a new type of missile that "we've not seen before". The Pentagon spokesman, US Navy Captain Jeff Davis, told reporters that the missile was fired from a mobile launcher and confirmed the presence of a re- entry vehicle on top of it.
American scientist David Wright, in a blog post on Tuesday, said that if reports of the missile's maximum range, of roughly 6,700km, were correct, it would be capable of reaching all of Alaska.
The United Nations Security Council, now presided over by China, was due to meet early this morning Singapore time.
Singapore condemned the missile test. "This deliberate and belligerent act represents a serious escalation and jeopardises the peace and stability of the region," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
China's Foreign Ministry urged all concerned parties to use "the correct track of dialogue and negotiation to peacefully resolve the issue".
In Seoul, it was revealed that President Moon Jae In had ordered yesterday's drills with the US.
"(It) was no longer sufficient to respond to the North's provocation by making statements," he was quoted as saying by his office, according to Reuters.