February 12, 2017 / 5:15 AM / 6 months ago

N.Korean launch was of medium or intermediate range missile - US military

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Kangdong Precision Machine Plant in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang February 7, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States detected a North Korean test-launch of either a medium- or intermediate-range ballistic missile, the U.S. military's Strategic Command said on Saturday, adding the missile did not pose a threat to North America.

"U.S. Strategic Command systems detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 4:55 p.m. CST," spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Martin O'Donnell said.

"The launch of a medium- or intermediate-range ballistic missile occurred near the northwestern city of Kusong."

Strategic Command said it tracked the missile over North Korea and into the Sea of Japan. It did not state whether the launch was deemed a success or failure.

It added that U.S. military forces would "remain vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and are fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security."

It was the first time the isolated state has tested such a device since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Trump administration had been expecting a North Korean "provocation" soon after taking office and would consider a full range of options in a response to Pyongyang’s missile test, but calibrated to show U.S. resolve while avoiding escalation.

The new administration was also likely to step up pressure on China to rein in North Korea, reflecting Trump's previously stated view that Beijing had not done enough on this front, the official said.

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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