WASHINGTON — North Korea followed up a provocative missile launch over Japan with a threat of more launches into the Pacific, calling it “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” as U.S. and allied officials moved to put more pressure on Pyongyang to de-escalate its military provocations.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was present for the launch of a missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido that was designed to carry a nuclear warhead, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said yesterday. That launch caused Japanese officials to awaken its citizens with warnings to take cover.
The launch spurred the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency meeting last night to begin crafting a response. President Trump reacted by stating “all options are on the table.”
“The world has 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’s statement said.
The launch came as the United States and South Korea wrapped up a 10-day-long annual joint military exercise, which North Korea called a provocation. After the missile launch over Japan, South Korea conducted a live-fire drill that drew further condemnation from Pyongyang.
It also came days after Pyongyang appeared to scrap declared plans to launch missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam, drawing praise from Trump just days after he promised “fire and fury” in response to any further threats from North Korea.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke to Trump by phone yesterday and said both nations are in “total agreement” about the need of the U.N. Security Council to step up pressures on North Korea.
Bay State Sen. Edward Markey, who visited the North Korea-China border last week as part of a congressional delegation, called for tougher sanctions against North Korea, including a complete embargo on oil.
“We must exhaust every available peaceful option before President Trump puts ‘all options on the table’ and considers launching a preventive war,” Markey said yesterday.
Experts said no real military option exists that won’t put scores of lives in danger.
“I think that what we should do is reiterate that the U.S. is willing to talk with North Korea because, after the joint military exercises are over, there may be an opening, if tensions have decreased, to actually engage diplomatically,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association.
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