U.S. President Donald Trump has promised “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if North Korea continued to test missiles following this morning’s ballistic missile launch over Japan.
South Korea also threatened to “exterminate” North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un if he continues to risk the safety of its population, as Seoul too responded to the latest missile launch by Pyongyang.
Trump told Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe today he stands “100 per cent behind Japan”.
He also said he had received Kim Jong-un’s message “loud and clear” after this morning’s missile test.
“The world has received North Korea latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” Trump said in the statement released by the White House.
North Korea fired a ballistic missile over northern Japan today in the most serious escalation yet of its nuclear stand-off with the West.
Within hours, South Korea had responded with “overwhelming show of force” by bombing a shooting range near its border to the North as part of a military drill, launching footage which contained a stern warning to Kim Jong-Un.
Seoul dropped eight Mark 84 bombs with four F15K fighter jets near Taebaek, Gangwon-do province, and released footage of the drill along with a video of its own ballistic missile tests conducted last week.
“If North Korea threatens the security of the South Korean people and the South Korea-US alliance with their nuclear weapons and missiles our air forces will exterminate the leadership of North Korea with our strong strike capabilities,” South Korean Colonel Lee Kuk-no warned in the video.
A statement from Seoul later on Tuesday echoed this sentiment, saying South Korea is “fully ready for any threat from the North”.
“We strongly condemn the North’s yet another provocation despite a grave message sent through Resolution 2371 adopted by the international community in the wake of its repeated strategic provocations,” the government said in a statement punlished by Yonhap news.
“We are fully ready for any threat from the North and will make unwavering efforts to protect the lives of our people and the security of our nation,” it said.
The rocket launched by North Korea this morning broke into three pieces off the coast of Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific Ocean, around 700 miles east of Cape Erimo, after travelling 1,700 miles in eight minutes.
Japanese military did not attempt to shoot down the rocket, reportedly a mid range ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload.
North Korea’s UN ambassador has blamed the U.S. for “driving the peninsula towards an extreme level of explosion” by joining the South for war drills in the Pacific, calling today’s missile test “justified”.
Han Tae Song set to attend a United Nations Security Council meeting in Geneva later today, did not explicitly refer to his country’s latest test firing of a ballistic missile that flew over Japan into the sea earlier in the day.
“Now that the U.S. has openly declared its hostile intention towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, by waging aggressive joint military exercises despite repeated warnings… my country has every reason to respond with tough counter-measures as an exercise of its right to self defence,” Han told the U.N. Conference on Disarmament.
“And the U.S. should be wholly responsible for the catastrophic consequences it will entail.”
Dictator Kim Jong-Un is believed to have fired his rocket over Japan because it is the path towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, which he threatened to attack two weeks ago.
The new missile managed 1,700 miles before it came down in the Pacific Ocean, a distance which is still some 400 miles short of reaching Guam.
Millions of Japanese citizens were woken with texts urging them to move to a “sturdy building or basement” as the missile passed over its territory at around 6am local time on Tuesday.
Residents took cover, while train services across Japan halted, with early-morning commuters told bluntly: “All lines are experiencing disruption due to missile launch.”
Japan’s chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said that the missile posed an “unprecedented, serious and grave threat to our nation”, while prime minister said that he would do all in his power to protect the Japanese public.
The missile test was branded “another provocation” and a big concern, by the U.S. official disarmament ambassador to the UN.
Washington still needs to do “further analysis” of the missile that flew over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island into the sea, but it will be the subject of today’s Security Council meeting, U.S. envoy Robert Wood told reporters in Geneva.
“It’s another provocation by North Korea, they just seem to continue to happen. This is a big concern of course to my government and to a number of other governments,” Wood said before a session of the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament where North Korean Ambassador Han Tae Song was to speak.
The South Korean military said Tuesday it conducted three flight tests of two types of new missiles with ranges of 497 miles and 310 miles on August 24 and that the missiles were close to being operationally deployed.
The military released footage of the tests of the longer-range missile that showed the missile being fired from a truck-mounted launcher and hitting a land-based target.
South Korea hasn’t officially named the missile yet, but it is tentatively called the Hyunmoo-2C.
The missile is considered a key component to the so-called “kill chain” pre-emptive strike capability the South is pursuing to cope with the North’s growing nuclear and missile threat.
Neighbouring China has responded to the missile launch with a call for restraint from all sides, but warned that tensions have reached a “tipping point” after U.S. and South Korea went on with their annual military exercises.