North Korea missiles 'drill for strike on US bases'
- 'Feasting his eyes' -Kim Jong-Un gave the order for the drill to start, the North's official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. "Feasting his eyes on the trails of ballistic rockets," he praised the Hwasong artillery unit that carried it out, it said. "The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation, he said," the agency added, referring to Kim. The military units involved are "tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency," KCNA said. The Korean version of the KCNA report said the North's missile launch demonstrated its readiness to "wipe out" enemy forces with a "merciless nuclear strike." A series of photographs published by the North's Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed Kim watching the missiles rise into the air and another of him smiling gleefully, clapping with other officials. Seoul and Washington last week began annual joint military exercises that always infuriate Pyongyang. It regularly issues threats against its enemies, and carried out two atomic tests and a series of missile launches last year, but Monday was only the second time its devices have come down in Japan's EEZ. The launches came ahead of a trip by new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the region.
- Beijing frustrated -The US military has begun deploying the THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system to South Korea, US Pacific Command said, with its first elements arriving on Monday, to protect against threats from the North. Pyongyang wants to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland -- something Trump has vowed would not happen. It has undoubtedly made progress in its efforts in recent years, although questions remain over its ability to master re-entry technology and miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it onto a missile warhead. The THAAD deployment has infuriated China, the North's key diplomatic ally and crucial to efforts to persuade it to change its ways. Beijing has become increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang's nuclear and missile activities, and last month announced a suspension of all coal imports from the North until the end of the year -- a crucial source of foreign currency. The North's missile launch was intended to "test the Trump administration's North Korea policy and the South Korea-US alliance", South Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-Ahn said Tuesday. It could have been an attempt to distract attention from the murder of Kim Jong-Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last month, he added. Seoul has blamed Pyongyang for the killing of the half-brother of the North's leader by two women using VX nerve agent. With diplomatic tensions soaring Pyongyang on Tuesday announced it was banning Malaysians in North Korea from leaving the country. Kuala Lumpur expelled the North's ambassador on Monday, with Pyongyang responding by formally declaring the Malaysian envoy persona non grata.