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A North Korean missile appeared to have exploded on Wednesday.jpg

 

The increasing frequency of the missile tests has fueled a growing sense of urgency over how to respond to the isolated, unpredictable state.

North Korea launched four ballistic missiles from near its west coast on March 6 and this week conducted a rocket engine test that its leader, Kim Jong Un, said opened "a new birth" of its rocket industry.

The latest launch came as the U.S. envoy for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun, met his South Korean counterpart in Seoul to discuss a response to the North's weapons programs.

Just last week U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Japan, South Korea and China and how to handle North Korea was a major issue in his talks.

Speaking in Seoul on Friday, Tillerson said a policy of strategic patience with North Korea had ended and all options, including a military one, were on the table if North Korea threatened South Korean or U.S. forces.

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since the beginning of last year in defiance of U.N. resolutions. It is believed to be working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

BROAD REVIEW

U.S. President Donald Trump rebuked Kim on Sunday, saying the North Korean leader was "acting very, very badly".

A senior U.S. official in Washington told Reuters on Monday that the Trump administration was considering sweeping sanctions as part of a broad review of measures to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threat.

The United States is also deploying an advanced missile- defense system in South Korea. But China objects to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, saying its powerful radar can penetrate deep into its territory, undermining its security.

Undaunted by the possibility of even tougher sanctions aimed at cutting North Korea off from the global financial system, a North Korean diplomat said his government would pursue an "acceleration" of its nuclear and missile programs.

This includes developing a "pre-emptive first strike capability" and an inter-continental ballistic missile, said Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the DPRK (North Korean) mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Japan's Nikkei index .N225 and South Korean stocks .KS11 extended losses slightly after news of a North Korean launch broke but trade was steady overall.

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