Donald Trump has issued a stern warning to North Korea after Kim Jong-un's missile launch
The bloody despot fired a ballistic missile at 11pm GMT, sending alarm bells ringing from Seoul to Washington via London and Tokyo.
The launch was the first since Donald Trump’s inauguration and the new president has issued a stern response to the hermit state.
A US official quickly blasted the test as “provocation”, with White House adviser Stephen Miller promising to “deter and prevent the increasing hostility”.
He said: “We are going to reinforce and strengthen our vital alliances in the Pacific region as part of our strategy to deter and prevent the increasing hostility that we've seen in recent years from the North Korea regime."
Donald Trump, who was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when the launch occurred, promised his support to Kim’s Asian enemies
He said: “I just want everybody to understand, and fully know, that the United States of America is behind Japan, our great ally, 100 percent.”
North Korea launched a missile into the Sea of Japan last night
Prime Minister Abe called the launch "absolutely intolerable" and said North Korea must comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The new administration is also likely to step up pressure on China to rein in North Korea, reflecting Mr Trump's previously stated view that Beijing has not done enough on this front.
China is North Korea's main ally but has been frustrated by Pyongyang's repeated provocations – although it bristles at pressure from Washington and Seoul to curb the North.
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President Trump and Prime Minister Abe speaking after the launch
This launch marks Mr Trump’s first real test as Commander-in-Chief – and critics say he must quickly establish a coordinated response after empty threats during the election campaign.
After North Korea announced they were close to launching an inter-continental ballistic missile in January he Tweeted: “It won’t happen!”
Aides, however, have failed to explain how he plans to prevent this.
Inside North Korea: The pictures Kim Jong-un doesn't want you to see Thu, December 15, 2016
Since 2008, photographer Eric Lafforgue ventured to North Korea six times. Thanks to digital memory cards, he was able to save photos that was forbidden to take inside the segregated state
Play slideshow Eric Lafforgue/Exclusivepix Medi 1 of 69
Taking pictures in the DMZ is easy, but if you come too close to the soldiers, they stop you
A South Korean military source said the launch was likely of a Musudan, which is designed to fly up to around 2,500 miles in distance.
The North attempted eight Musudan launches last year. Only one of those as considered a success by officials and experts in South Korea and the United States.
A South Korean watching Kim Jong-un on television
Sunday's launch comes at an awkward time for South Korea, where President Park Geun-hye has been stripped of her powers after a December parliamentary vote to impeach her.
Her fate will be decided by the Constitutional Court, which is hearing arguments on whether to uphold or overturn the impeachment.
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