North Korea has fired off its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile yet as the United States warns they can now hit “everywhere in the world”.
North Korea abruptly ended a 10-week pause in its weapons testing by launching what the Pentagon said was a ballistic missile, possibly its longest-range test yet.
U.S. President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday to “handle the situation” after North Korea’s test missile traveled about 620 miles and landed within 200 nautical miles of Japan’s coast.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned that North Korea has the ability to hit “everywhere in the world basically” and that the latest missile test went “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken”.
He added that South Korea had responded by firing some pinpoint missiles out into the water to “make certain North Korea understands that they could be taken under fire by our ally”.
One physicist said that the missile appeared to have a realistic range of just over 8,000 miles, which means Washington D.C. is now in range of North Korea’s attacks – and that Australia and Europe are too.
“A missile was launched a little while ago from North Korea. I will only tell you that we will take care of it,” Trump told reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House a few hours after the missile streaked across Korean and Japanese skies at 745 miles per hour.
Asked if Tuesday’s provocation by despot Kim Jong-Un had changed his strategy in the region, he said: “Nothing changed. We have a very serious approach and nothing changed. We take it very seriously.”
The White House said Trump was notified immediately after the missile was fired, suggesting that the news interrupted a meeting with Republican senators on Capitol Hill.
“@POTUS was briefed, while missile was still in the air, on the situation in North Korea,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a tweet.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and her counterparts from Japan and South Korea will hold an emergency Security Council meeting on Wednesday afternoon, the State Department said late Tuesday.
Trump, in the midst of tense budget negotiations with Congress, stressed the need for improved military readiness – tying Tuesday’s missile launch to his request for more defense spending.
“A lot of things have happened, even over the last two hours, with respect to the missile launch. We want our military funded, and we want it funded now,” he said.
The missile was launched eastward from Pyongsong in North Korea’s South Pyongan Province in the middle of the night local time, according to a statement issued by the South Korean Military’s joint chiefs of staff.
Pentagon Spokesman Col. Robert Manning said in a statement that the launch, at about 1:17 p.m., was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), according to the Defense Department’s initial analysis.
‘The missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 1000 km before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone,’ Maness said.