TOKYO/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island into the sea on Tuesday, prompting a warning from U.S. President Donald Trump that “all options are on the table” as the United States considers its response.
The test, one of the most provocative ever from the reclusive state, came as U.S. and South Korean forces conduct annual military exercises on the peninsula, angering North Korea which sees them as a preparation for invasion.
North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under young leader Kim Jong Un, the most recent on Saturday, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, but firing projectiles over mainland Japan is rare.
Trump said the world had received North Korea’s 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 a statement released by the White House.
“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table.”
Trump spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the two agreed that North Korea “poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, as well as to countries around the world”, the White House said.
The Republic of Korea is South Korea’s official name.
“President Trump and Prime Minister Abe committed to increasing pressure on North Korea, and doing their utmost to convince the international community to do the same,” the statement said.
The U.S. disarmament ambassador said Washington still needed to do “further analysis” of the launch, which would be the subject of a U.N. Security Council meeting later in the day.
“It’s another provocation by North Korea, they just seem to continue to happen,” U.S. envoy Robert Wood told reporters in Geneva.
“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.
North Korean Ambassador Han Tae Song told the session the United States was driving the Korean peninsula “towards and extreme level of explosion” by deploying strategic assets and conducting nuclear war drills.
In China, North Korea’s lone major ally, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the crisis was “approaching a critical juncture”, but it was also maybe a turning point to open the door to peace talks.