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White House calls North Korea ‘flagrant menace’ after latest missile test

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WASHINGTON — The White House called North Korea a “flagrant menace” after the test launch of a ballistic missile, the seventh such firing this year.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the missile test, according to a statement the White House released late Saturday. The missile firing took place on Sunday, North Korea time. It landed in the sea between North Korea and Japan.

“The United States maintains our ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea,” the statement said.

The statement called for stronger sanctions against the North, but did not directly threaten U.S. military action. Trump has said previously that bellicose actions by Kim Jong Un’s government could trigger “major, major conflict.”

The test firing, against a backdrop of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, came four days after South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, took office. Moon has called for outreach to Kim, North Korea’s mercurial leader.

In its statement, the White House appeared to call indirectly for Russian support in containing Kim’s nuclear ambitions, suggesting they also posed a threat to Russia.

“With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil – in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan – the president cannot imagine that Russia is pleased,” the statement said.

Russia, a former ally of North Korea, is a member of a six-nation consortium aimed at reining in the reclusive nation’s nuclear program through diplomatic and financial incentives, but that forum has been inactive for nearly a decade.

Russia’s Interfax news agency cited military officials as saying that the missile posed no danger to its territory. It said the projectile was tracked by Russian anti-missile defenses during its 23-minute flight before falling into the sea more than 300 miles off the Russian coast.

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