North Korea's missile launch: What we know

North Korea attempted to launch a new missile Sunday, but the device "blew up almost immediately," the U.S. military said.

Where did the test occur?

The U.S. and South Korea's military said Sunday's missile was launched from Sinpo, on North Korea's east coast.

"The North attempted to launch an unidentified missile from near the Sinpo region this morning but it is suspected to have failed," the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Sinpo is roughly 182 miles from Seoul, South Korea.

The Pentagon and South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it wasn’t immediately clear what type of missile was involved.

Why did the test occur?

The test came one day after Saturday's North Korea military parade, which marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of regime founder Kim Il-Sung. Tens of thousands of North Korean soldiers goose-stepped and new missiles and other military hardware were wheeled out in a show of military strength and defiance during the celebratory parade in the capital of Pyongyang.

The timing also coincides with increasing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. "Our toughest counteraction against the U.S. and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive," a spokesperson for North Korea’s military said ahead of the parade, according to the state-run KCNA news agency.

What was the U.S. reaction?

Sunday's missile failure come as the U.S. is making its presence known in the region, with the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group approaching the Korean Peninsula.

Prior to the launch, President Trump had warned the isolated regime to avoid nuclear or missile tests or face unspecified consequences. "North Korea is looking for trouble," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!  U.S.A."

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis issued a brief statement after news of the launch became public saying that President Trump and “his military team are aware of North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch," but that "the president has no further comment."

What happens next?

In addition to the Vinson, the U.S. presence in the region will also be reflected when Vice President Mike Pence arrives in South Korea Sunday afternoon as a sign of U.S. commitment to its South Korean ally.

North Korea, for its part, does not seem to be taking Trump's comments and tweets lightly. North Korea’s vice foreign minister Han Song Ryol told The Associated Press on Friday that "Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words.”

Ryol threatened in the interview that North Korea was ready to go war against the U.S. He also said the communist state would continue to develop its nuclear weapons program and conduct tests as its leadership saw fit. North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006.

"We've got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike," he said.

Trump has warned the North that the U.S. will not allow it to develop a long-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could reach the continental United States. Analysts believe the regime is making progress toward that goal.

China, the only country with leverage over its neighbor to the south, has warned both the U.S. and North Korea to lower their aggressive rhetoric. China is North Korea's main trading partner and Chinese companies produce military components for the North.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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