SEOUL • United States President Donald Trump slammed North Korea after it test-fired a ballistic missile yesterday morning, calling the launch a show of disrespect towards China, its sole main ally.
American and South Korean officials said the test, from an area north of Pyongyang, appeared to have failed in what would be North Korea's fourth successive unsuccessful missile test since March.
Mr Trump, who has said a major conflict with North Korea is possible and that military options remain on the table, berated Pyongyang.
"North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!," he said in a post on Twitter after the launch.
Mr Trump on Thursday praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for "trying very hard" with North Korea.
US officials believed North Korea tested a medium-range missile, known as KN-17, and it appeared to have broken up within minutes of taking off. The test took place shortly after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that failure to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes could lead to "catastrophic consequences".
It came as the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group arrived in waters near the Korean peninsula, where it began exercises with the South Korean navy yesterday, just minutes after the failed launch, a South Korean navy official said.
Mr Tillerson, in a UN Security Council meeting on North Korea on Friday, repeated the Trump administration's position that all options were on the table if Pyongyang persisted with its nuclear and missile development.
North Korea rattled world powers when it successfully launched a new intermediate-range ballistic missile in February and later, four ballistic missiles into the sea near Japan on March 6.
"The threat of a nuclear attack on Seoul or Tokyo is real, and it's only a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the US mainland," he said. "Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences."
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the UN meeting that "the key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side".
In a commentary yesterday, the official Xinhua news agency said both North Korea and the US needed to tread cautiously.
"If both sides fail to make such necessary concessions, then not only will the two countries, but the whole region and the whole world end up paying a heavy price for a possible confrontation."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the test as a grave threat to the international order.
Mr Moon Jae In, the South Korean politician expected to win the May 9 presidential election, called the test an "exercise in futility".
North Korea test-fires ballistic missile in defiance. http://str.sg/42xP