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U.S. Says North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Into Sea Of Japan

A previous North Korean missile launch

South Korean and U.S. military officials say North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, days ahead of a meeting between the U.S. president and the leader of the North's main ally, China.

The South Korean Defense Ministry on April 5 said the North "fired a ballistic missile from the Sinpo area into the Sea of Japan."

U.S. military officials said initial assessments indicate it was a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile. The officials added that it did not pose a threat to North America.

If it is indeed a ballistic missile, it would be the latest challenge by Pyongyang to South Korea, Japan, the United States, and other powers that have condemned the North's missile program and has even troubled China.

A launch of objects using the ballistic-missile technology would be in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Officials said the missile traveled about 60 kilometers, a relatively short flight compared with what other North Korean missiles have flown.

Earlier in March, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles that traveled about 1,000 kilometers into Japanese-controlled seas.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called on China to pressure Pyongyang to rein in its missile program, saying the United States was prepared to take on North Korea alone if the Chinese did not do more.

The launch comes ahead of a meeting between Trump and President Xi Jinping, scheduled for April 6-7 at the U.S. leader's Mar-a-Lago resort.

The nuclear-armed North has test-launched a series of missiles in recent months and conducted two nuclear tests last year.

South Korea and Pyongyang signed a declaration on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but the North has since walked away from the agreement, citing what it says is the threat of U.S. invasion.

The United States has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, and 50,000 in Japan, as a deterrent against potential aggression from the North.

With reporting by AFP, TASS, Reuters, and Yonhap
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