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US military confirms N. Korea fired missile into Sea of Japan

© KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/File | This undated picture released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) via KNS on March 7, 2017 shows four ballistic missiles after they were fired by Korean People's Army (KPA) during a military drill at an undisclosed location

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

The US military confirmed Tuesday that nuclear-armed North Korea had fired a ballistic missile, finding it posed no threat to North America and vowing to work closely with its regional allies.

The move came after the reclusive state warned it will retaliate if the global community ramps up sanctions over its latest round of weapons tests.

Ahead of a key visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump had said the United States was prepared to go it alone in bringing Pyongyang to heel if China did not step in.

"US Pacific Command is fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security," the military command in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region said.

"The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America."

PACOM said it determined the launch of the KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile took place at 11:42 am (2142 GMT), landing in the Sea of Japan at 11:51 am, in line with findings by the South Korean defense ministry.

Pyongyang is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year.

© 2017 AFP