North Korea fired a missile early Wednesday morning local time, the Pentagon said Tuesday, which traveled 1000 km (roughly 621 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan. The launch, which the Pentagon said from initial assessments appears to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, marks the hermit kingdom’s first missile test in more than two months.
The missile was fired eastward from a region north of North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang, signalling Kim Jong Un’s continued defiance against President Trump’s repeated warnings.
“The U.S. Department of Defense detected and tracked a single North Korea missile launch today at about 1:17 p.m. EST. Initial assessment indicates that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile,” Pentagon Spokesman Col. Robert Manning said in a statement. “The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America, our territories or our allies.”
The Pentagon confirmed to CBS News that the missile was fired from a mobile missile launcher. Japanese officials said the missile was in the air for about 50 minutes, according to broadcaster NHK, which is longer than the ICBM North Korea launched in July.
In remarks at the White House, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the launch “went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken.” President Trump in his remarks said the U.S. would “take care it,” but did not elaborate on what the response would exactly be.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe ordered an emergency meeting of his cabinet ministers following the launch, according to Reuters, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was briefed while the missile was still in the air.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency first reported news of the launch, citing a statement from the South Korean military.
“North Korea launched an unidentified ballistic missile eastward from the vicinity of Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province, at dawn today,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, according to Yonhap.
The launch is the country’s 20th missile test in 2017. It has been 74 days since Pyongyang’s last test, according to Shea Cotton, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
Joseph Yun, the State Department’s top official for North Korea, said in late October that the U.S. would entertain resuming talks with North Korea if no missiles were launched for 60 days — a timeline that now appears to have been reset to zero.
President Trump labeled North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism earlier this month, placing it back on the list which it had been removed from in 2008 under President George W. Bush.
“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea … and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime,” Trump said.
In his maiden speech to the U.N. in September, Trump said he would have no choice but to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatened the U.S. or its allies.
Experts believe Pyongyang will be able to fit a miniaturized nuclear warhead on a missile sooner than initially predicted.
This is a developing story …