rockets, north korea.jpg
Photograph: EPA/RODONG SINMUN SOUTH KOREA OUT NO SALES

The United States on Tuesday joined North Korea's neighbours in strongly condemning an attempt by Pyongyang to launch a missile.

US strategic command systems detected a test of a immediate-range ballistic missile by North Korea and determined that it had failed, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Earnest added that the White House had no new assessment on what North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be "contemplating at this point."

He said the international community agrees that the test violated UN Security Council resolutions, which explicitly prohibit North Korea's use of ballistic missile technology.

"These actions and North Korea's continued pursuit of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capabilities pose a significant threat to the United States, our allies and to the stability of the Asia-Pacific region," Earnest said at a briefing.

But the test conducted on Tuesday had posed no threat to North America.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry warned earlier Tuesday that Pyongyang could face toughened sanctions and more isolation as a result of the launch. South Korean military sources also assessed the test as a failure.

"Today's missile launch attempt by the North is tantamount to ignoring repeated warnings from the international community to stop additional provocations, which can never be tolerated," ministry spokesman Cho June Hyuck told reporters, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that "the multiple launches of missiles by North Korea are provocative acts toward the international community, including Japan, and are totally unacceptable."

China, Pyongyang's only major international ally, struck a more conciliatory tone.

"The current situation of the peninsula is complex and sensitive. All relative parties should avoid taking any action that might escalate the tension," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

The rocket type fired on Tuesday morning was a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, Yonhap reported, citing the South Korean military. The missile may have exploded prematurely, it said.

The isolated Pyongyang regime suffered three failed Musudan launches in April, it said.

Tensions on the peninsula are high, after North Korea held an atomic test explosion in January, and launched a long-range ballistic missile in February, prompting a tightening of international sanctions.

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