Another day, another provocation, and another launch from North Korea’s den of nuclear iniquity. But the launch Tuesday of a long-range missile, sans nuclear tip, is particularly sinister.
Asia is unnerved. South Korea carried out a “precision missile strike drill,” planned earlier, just minutes after Pyongyang sent its missile aloft from a proving ground at Sain Ni in the western reaches of North Korea. The missile traveled 600 miles before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, within Japan’s Economic Exclusion Zone. The provocation was obviously precisely aimed.
“It is a measured and pointed response but also a reminder that the peninsula remains on hair-trigger alert,” Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, tells CNN News. “In this situation provocations or even mistakes could quickly escalate out of control.”
Indeed, and it’s this sinister fact that has put Asia on edge, and Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that this test went “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken.” Mr. Mattis, interrupted at a meeting with Sen. Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan, said the test demonstrated that North Korea has the ability now “to hit everywhere in the world, basically.”
President Trump was notified of the missile launch while the missile was still aloft in a 50-minute trajectory, and, reassuring not only Asia but the rest of that world now at risk, “we will take care of it, it is a situation that we will handle.”
This is good to know, if hardly reassuring when the threat is from the erratic and unpredictable Kim Jong-un, the leader of the reclusive outlaw state. But the day and hour of the president’s matching Kim’s colorful rhetoric, best suited to the schoolyard, is past. The public needs to hear no more fiery words and threats of turning the world into “a lake of fire.”
Everyone knows the consequences of nuclear warfare. What the world wants to see now is evidence that the world is not yet on the eve of destruction. President Trump has at last persuaded his golfing buddy, President Xi Jinping of China, that the situation is dire and the hour is late, and China, despite its many reasons not to hurt an important trading partner, must take Kim Jong-un in firm hand.
Mr. Trump has said, loud and long, that the United States will not allow North Korea to arm itself with nuclear weapons. This is a vow and a promise that a nervous and unsettled world is counting on him to find a way to keep.
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