Donald Trump
Donald Trump Reuters

The United States military detected a missile test by North Korea and is assessing the launch, a U.S. defense official told Reuters on Saturday night, shortly after the South Korean military said that Pyongyang had conducted a missile test.

"We can confirm that we did detect a missile launch from North Korea," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We are assessing and will have more information soon."

Meanwhile, a White House official told Reuters that President Donald Trump has been briefed on the missile launched by North Korea, and the White House is continuing to monitor the situation.

South Korea's military said the North Korean missile was launched from Panghyon in the country’s western region and flew about 500 kilometers (300 miles).

"Our assessment is that it is part of a show of force in response to the new U.S. administration's hardline position against the North," said the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The South Korean Yonhap news agency said the South Korean military is assessing the launch to confirm whether it was a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, which has a designed flight range of 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles).

North Korea tried to launch a Musudan eight times last year but most of those attempts failed. It did, however, carried out two nuclear tests last year, in defiance of UN sanctions.

The launch comes a month after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that the country was close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). State media later said such a launch could come “at any time”.

The missile launched in the latest test, however, did not appear to be an ICBM, Yonhap said, citing a South Korean military source.

Trump responded to Kim’s recent threats by tweeting, “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!” pan defense minister says gathering information on North Korea missile launch

Earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis promised an "overwhelming" response against North Korea if it were to use nuclear weapons.