The test missile was launched on April 15, in commemoration of the 105th birthday of North Korean founding father Kim Il Sung, failed “almost immediately,” officials tracking the launch at U.S. Pacific Command said at the time.
Current North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has typically conducted tests of mid- to long-range ballistic missiles in commemoration of such events.
Despite the near instantaneous failure of the missile launch, it represented the latest violation of international sanctions banning Pyongyang’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.
“The leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile,” Mr. Mattis said Tuesday of the test. His comments came during a visit to Saudi Arabia, one of several countries the defense chief plans to visit as part of a weeklong diplomatic trip across the region.
His strong condemnation of the test launch came after the Pentagon chief had attempted to defuse the war of words between the Trump White House and Pyongyang over their nuclear efforts.
The White House has ramped up its sharp rhetoric against the North Korean regime in recent days.
Taking to Twitter, President Trump said Pyongyang “is looking for trouble” by continuing to pursue its nuclear ambitions, adding if China would not intervene “we will solve the problem without them!”
The regime fired back, saying North Korea “will hold the U.S. wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions,” read a statement by a foreign ministry spokesman published by state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Pyongyang stands ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S., the spokesman added.
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