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20 March 2017, 01:06 | Melissa Porter
BOMBS AWAY North Korea has accused the US of practicing bombing the hermit state
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denounced North Korea's missile launches earlier this week, indicating that the Trump administration is open to taking pre-emptive action if North Korea continues to "elevate the threat of their weapons program". Trump made the comments to reporters while departing leaving his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he spends nearly every weekend.
However, he did not elaborate on the progress the test showed the North had made, nor comment on whether the engine could be used for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), saying the South Korean military was conducting analysis.
A South Korean analyst said the test was an ominous development.
Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on February 13, allegedly with a lethal chemical weapon called VX nerve agent, according to Malaysian police.
"This was a comprehensive test for the first-stage rocket for an ICBM, and that is why it was risky", said Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Seoul's Institute for Far Eastern Studies.
It has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006 - three under Kim Jong-Un - and launched a number of missiles as it seeks to develop a weapon capable of reaching the USA mainland.
North Korean leader Kim said in January his country was close to test-launching an ICBM.
Tillerson told reporters in Seoul on March 17 that the USA wasn't interested in conducting direct talks with North Korea to halt its weapons program, saying instead that tighter sanctions enforcement and the possibility of a military strike were being considered as part of a continuing policy review by the Trump administration.
The engine North Korea wants to use for the program is banned by the United Nations, however, the country claims its intentions are peaceful.
Tillerson sat down for talks with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday but their stances remained miles apart.
The weekend's experiment came as the top U.S. diplomat wrapped up his trip to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, having declared Washington would drop the "failed" approach of "strategic patience" with Pyongyang.
A growing threat from the North has prompted Seoul and Washington to begin installing a powerful USA missile defence system in the South - angering Beijing, which views it as a threat to China's own missile capabilities.
In a total switch from previous policy, Mr Tillerson said: "Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended". Russian Federation also opposes the system, for the same reasons.
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