Trump willing to use engagement on North Korea crisis

Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army

North Korea launched Sunday what appeared to be its longest-range ballistic missile yet, saying it was capable of carrying a "heavy nuclear warhead" in a test aimed at bringing the United States mainland within reach.

That statement from North Korea's state media was a paraphrase of President Kim's celebratory remarks after his country launched a new type of "medium long-range" ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.

Haley said the global community wants to be able to support North Korea, but as long as it continues trying to grow its nuclear programme with missile tests, North Korea would remain an "island".

In a Q&A on the website of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Stanford Professor Siegfried Hecker, an expert on plutonium science, said: "North Korea does not yet have the capability to reach the USA mainland with a nuclear-tipped missile...although the missile test on Sunday brings it somewhat closer".

China has strongly opposed THAAD, saying it can spy into its territory, and South Korean companies in China have been hit by a nationalist backlash over the deployment. It has also regularly threatened South Korea and Japan of strikes for colluding with the United States.

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US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has made it clear that Washington would talk to North Korea only after it halts its nuclear programme.

But he did not shy away from the potential consequences of the continued escalation of rhetoric and testing emanating from North Korea.

"We had a serious discussion but I find it uncomfortable to say more about it", Moon said, adding that both sides expressed their positions.

USA rocket scientists have said that the missile launched by North Korea on Monday showed considerable progress the country made towards developing an intercontinental ballistic missile which can reach America.

"North Korea launched a missile four days ago and claims to have succeeded in launching an intermediate-range ballistic missile", said Moon, speaking at the South Korean Defense Ministry.

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Trump's comments could not immediately be independently verified.

"I will never tolerate the North's provocations and nuclear threats", he said on a visit to the defence ministry, urging the South's military to adopt a "watertight defence posture".

China's foreign minister urged South Korea's new government on Thursday to remove "obstacles" to good relations amid Chinese anger at the USA deployment of an anti-missile system on the Korean peninsula.

In Washington, a US defense official said that Sunday's missile appeared to be liquid-fueled and was what appeared to be the most successful launch of such a device.

Trump has said "a major, major conflict" with North Korea was possible and all options were on the table but wanted to resolve the crisis diplomatically and peacefully, possibly through the use of economic sanctions.

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The launch represented a "significant success", Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation think tank, told AFP.

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