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The official U.S. response to North Korea missile launch is not to talk the about North Korea missile launch

by Gabrielle Bluestone
Apr 4 2017, 9:42pm

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson weighed in on a missile fired toward Japan by North Korea Tuesday by announcing he would not be weighing in at all.

In an uncharacteristically terse statement for the agency, Tillerson confirmed the missile launch but made it clear he would not discuss the matter further.

“North Korea launched another intermediate-range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment,” the statement reads.

The U.S. Pacific Command was somewhat more forthcoming on the details of the launch of the missile.

“U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 11:42 a.m. Hawaii time April 4,” Commander David Benham said in a statement. “The launch of a single ballistic missile occurred at a land-based facility near Sinpo… The missile was tracked until it landed in the Sea of Japan at 11:51 a.m. Initial assessments indicate the type of missile was a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile.”

Benham also said that the the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) had determined the missile launch “did not pose a threat to North America.”

The launch came just a few days before Trump’s scheduled meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinpeng at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where the issues they are expected to discuss include how to handle North Korea. The country tends to use high-profile meetings as a peg for missile launches; they also timed a launch to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s February visit to Mar-a-Lago.

At least one unnamed White House official is telling reporters the U.S. may now be ready for military action. “The clock has now run out, and all options are on the table,” the official told CNN Tuesday, pointing to the country’s nuclear program as a “matter of urgent interest for the president and the administration as a whole.”

Tillerson had indicated on March 17 that pre-emptive military action against the country could be on the table.

“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson said at a joint press conference in Seoul. “We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures. If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.”

It’s not clear if that was the statement he was referring to when he said “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea.”