North Korean test missile explodes on launch

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Though tensions had been rising dangerously between Washington and Pyongyang in the lead-up to the April 15 anniversary, the biggest holiday of the year in North Korea, the heightened rhetoric and saber-rattling on both sides could begin to cool down - a pattern that has been common in recent years, especially in the spring, when the USA and South Korea stage their huge annual war games.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the border village of Panmunjom which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, South Korea, Monday, April 17, 2017, a day after the North conducted a failed missile launch.

Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae accused President Trump of "creating a war situation" by sending USA forces to the region.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned Thursday that North Korea may be capable of firing a missile loaded with sarin nerve gas toward Japan, as worldwide concern mounted that a missile or nuclear test by the authoritarian state could be imminent. Although Trump had a cordial summit with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Florida this month, the North Korea issue threatens to drive a wedge between them.

Vice President Mike Pence is in South Korea as part of a 10-day tour of Asia.

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The launch, detected at 11:21 a.m., Hawaii time Saturday, occurred somewhere near Sinpo, a coastal city in North Korea along the Sea of Japan, the US Pacific Command said in a statement. The missile was launched from Sinpo, on North Korea's east coast.

'It's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully, ' he said on ABC's This Week program. But others went ballistic, going so far as to speculate whether the missiles could hit the White House - a headline dismissed as "clickbait" by more serious pundits who believe North Korea is still some distance away from it.

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Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the United States and North Korea not to push their recriminations to a point of no return and allow war to break out on the peninsula.

Mr Pence is due in Seoul at the start of a 10-day trip to Asia in what his aides said was a sign of the U.S. commitment to its ally in the face of rising tension over North Korea.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday that North Korea was "looking for trouble" and added that if China doesn't do its part to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, the US can handle it.

The official said Pence would focus on regional issues "as they relate to all of our national security strategy, but with particular emphasis on the belligerency of North Korea". Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site obtained by 38 North, a program devoted to analysis of the country at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, showed activity at the site suggestive of preparations for a nuclear test.

But the missile involved in the failed test evidently was smaller.

North Korea has often test-fired missiles to mark major dates such as Saturday's 105th anniversary of the birth of the nation's founder Kim Il-Sung, or as gestures of defiance when top United States officials visit the region. The joint U.S. -South Korean military camp is just outside the 2.5-mile-wide DMZ.

CBS News foreign correspondent Ben Tracy - the only broadcast network reporter in North Korea - has the latest from the country Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation", after North Korea conducted a failed missile test.

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