Latest N. Korea mis­sile test de­signed to stoke ten­sions

Austin American-Statesman - - HURRICANE HARVEY - Wash­ing­ton Post

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.

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