US, Japan angry as Pyongyang test-fires ballistic missile

Seoul, Feb 12: North Korea on Sunday fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters, with US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denouncing it.

The intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missile was launched at around 7.55 a.m. near Banghyeon in North Pyongan province, Xinhua news agency quoted South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying.

The projectile is estimated to have travelled about 500 km and landed in waters off North Korea's east coast.

The launch came as Trump was hosting Abe and just days before North Korea marks the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un's late father Kim Jong II.

During a joint conference with Trump, Abe called on Pyongyang to comply fully with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Abe called the test "absolutely intolerable".

He said Trump had assured him of US support and that his presence showed the President's determination and commitment, The Japan Times reported.

Trump followed Abe with even fewer words: "I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the US stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 per cent."

Kim Jong Un had said in his New Year address that North Korea had reached the final stages of readiness to test an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, which would be a major step forward in its efforts to build a credible nuclear threat to the US.

South Korea's acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said his country would punish North Korea for the missile launch.

The Presidential office convened an emergency national security council meeting chaired by top presidential security advisor Kim Kwan-jin, Yonhap news agency reported.

According to South Korea's Foreign Ministry, Seoul would continue to work with allies including the US, Japan and the European Union to ensure a thorough implementation of sanctions against Pyongyang.