Latest N. Korea missile test designed to stoke tensions
North Korea’s TOKYO — launch of a ballistic missile over Japan was unprecedented, but President Trump’s response Tuesday was not a renewal of his — warning that “all options are on the table” and a reminder that the possibility of military action has not yet deterred North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The missile launch seemed designed to wreak just the right amo u nt of havoc: enough for Kim to show that he would not be cowed but not so much as to invite the “fire and fury” that Trump warned could follow contin- ued North Korean threats.
The launch early Tuesday was the first test of such a sophisticated weapon over the landmass of a U.S. ally
and an obvious warning to the United States that North Korea could easily target U.S. military facilities on Guam or elsewhere in the Pacific region.
It came during annual joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea that have infuriated the nuclear-armed communist regime. It also came despite recent offers of talks from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: This regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all mem- bers of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” Trump said in an early morning statement.
“Threatening and destabi- lizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world,” he said. “All options are on the table.”
The United St a tes requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, which this month unanimously approved the strictest economic sanc- tions to date on a nation that already is one of the most heavily sanctioned in
the world. “No country should have missiles flying over them like
those 130 million people in Japan. It’s unacceptable,”
said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
North Korea has “violated every single U.N. Security Council resolution that we’ve had, and so I think something serious has to happen,” she added. “Enough is enough.”
Trump spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hours after the launch, and the two leaders “committed to increas
ing pressure on North Korea, and doing their utmost to convince the international community to do the same,” according to a White House statement.
That was a reference to stiff international sanctions that so far have failed to stop North Korea from developing working nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The U.S. claims North Korea could not evade those sanctions if other countries including China enforced
them more stringently. Asked about the effec- tiveness of sanctions and international denunciation, given that North Korea does not seem to care about the moves, deputy British U.N. envoy Jonathan Allen insisted such actions have merit.
“They send that really important message of the entire world being united, and they do have an impact on North Korea,” Allen told reporters at the United Nations.
The missile appeared to be a Hwasong-12, the intermediate-range ballistic missile that North Korea has been threatening to shoot into the waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.
But North Korea did not fire it southeast toward Guam. Instead, it launched the missile in a northeasterly direction, over Japan
and into the Pacific Ocean. It was, as Stephan Haggard, a political scientist and Korea expert at the University of California at San Diego, described it, “perfectly calibrated to create political mischief.”
North Korea’s action also seemed designed to drive a wedge between its neighbors.
In Japan, Abe called it “an unprecedented, grave and serious threat.” South Korea’s liberal president, Moon Jae-in, who has promoted engagement with Pyongyang, denounced the launch and sent his fighter jets to drop bombs on a shooting range near the border with North Korea.