North Korea said Wednesday that it will make an “important” announcement later in the day, following its launch of what appears to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
North Korea will make the announcement at noon (Pyongyang time), the state-run radio station said, without elaborating.
Earlier in the day, the North fired the missile from an area north of Pyongyang, breaking a 75-day lull in provocations. It flew 960 kilometers to an altitude of around 4,500 km, Seoul’s military said
U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday after North Korea launched what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile that he will “take care of it.”
“A missile was launched a little while ago from North Korea,” he said at the White House. “I will only tell you that we will take care of it.”
He was joined by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
“We’ve had a long discussion on it,” Trump said of the defense chief. “It is a situation that we will handle.”
The missile was fired from north of Pyongyang and flew about 1,000 kilometers before falling into the East Sea inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to the South Korean and U.S. militaries.
If confirmed, it would be North Korea’s third ICBM launch following two in July.
“It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken,” Mattis said. “It’s a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that could threaten everywhere in the world, basically.”
He noted the South Korean military conducted a missile exercise after the launch “to make certain North Korea understands that they could be taken under fire by our ally.”
“But the bottom line is, it’s a continued effort to build a threat — a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace, and certainly, the United States,” he said.
And when asked by reporters if the launch changed his approach to North Korea, Trump said it did not.
“Nothing changed. Nothing changed,” he said. “We have a very serious approach, but nothing changed. We take it very seriously.”
Trump did not comment further, in a departure from his previous fiery rhetoric toward Pyongyang.
The American president threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea after the regime launched its first two ICBMs in July. He later threatened to “totally destroy” the nation if necessary.
North Korea responded in kind, saying it could test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.
The country conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September as it accelerates its pursuit of a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the American mainland.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement the U.S. “strongly condemns” the launch.
“The DPRK’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them must be reversed,” he said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Together the international community must continue to send a unified message to North Korea that the DPRK must abandon its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs.”
He urged all nations to keep up U.N. sanctions against the regime and take additional steps to interdict vessels transporting goods to and from the North.
“Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now,” he said. “The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization and to ending belligerent actions by North Korea.”
Washington has repeatedly said that efforts to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear program are diplomatically led, with military options as a backup. Ahead of Tuesday’s launch, a 75-day pause in North Korean provocations had raised hopes there could be an opening for talks between the two countries.
South Korea’s Moon Jae-in administration has also prioritized a peaceful solution to the standoff, saying a war would devastate the Korean Peninsula.
Speaking at a Washington forum hours before the missile test, South Korea’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung said Seoul intends to pursue dialogue and nonpolitical cooperation with Pyongyang to the extent they do not undermine the international sanctions regime.
“If the South Korean government maintains such a principled approach, it will be helpful to lure and lead change in North Korea’s attitude going forward,” he said.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed Wednesday to maintain maximum pressure and sanctions against North Korea, strongly condemning the communist state’s latest long-range missile launch staged earlier in the day.
The agreement came in a telephone conversation held only hours after Pyongyang fired what was believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to Seoul’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
“The two leaders strongly condemned North Korea for again launching a long-range ballistic missile despite the international community’s repeated warnings and its continued sanctions and pressure under a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun told a press briefing.
“Also, the two leaders agreed to continue their efforts to bring North Korea to the dialogue table by continuing to put sanctions and pressure on North Korea in close cooperation with the international community, while firmly and strongly dealing with North Korean provocations based on the strong joint defense posture of South Korea and the United States,” he added.
The latest missile provocation marked the first of its kind since Sept. 15 when Pyongyang fired an intermediate range missile that flew over Japan.
Earlier, the White House said Moon and Trump had discussed the countries’ response to the North Korean provocation.
“Both leaders underscored the grave threat that North Korea’s latest provocation poses not only to the United States and the Republic of Korea but to the entire world,” it said in a statement.
The South Korean president noted the South Korean Army, Navy and Air Force staged a joint exercise immediately after the North Korean missile launch, according to Park.
“(The president) explained that his country demonstrated its capability to target the origin of North Korean provocations by striking a target with ground-to-ground, ship-to-ground and air-to-ground missiles,” the spokesman said.
Moon underscored the need for the allies to share information regarding the North Korean missile launch, noting the latest missile launch appeared to have shown improvements in the communist state’s missile technology.
“President Trump expressed agreement and suggested they hold additional discussions based on a detailed and accurate evaluation of today’s missile provocation and close consultations between the foreign and defense authorities of South Korea and the United States,” Park said.
The two leaders agreed to hold additional discussions in the near future on ways to deal with North Korean provocations after carefully examining North Korea’s intentions and necessary countermeasures, he added.
Meanwhile, a Cheong Wa Dae official said the country had detected signs of a North Korean provocation well before the communist state staged its 11th missile provocation since the Moon Jae-in administration took office in May.
“President Moon had instructed (the government) to tell the people that signs of a North Korean missile launch were imminent (Tuesday),” the official told reporters, while speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official said the president had also delegated full authority to stage a precision missile exercise to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apparently enabling the joint drill of the three armed forces that immediately followed the North’s latest missile provocation.
Cheong Wa Dae earlier said the president was briefed on the North Korean missile launch at 3:19 a.m., two minutes after the reclusive regime staged its latest provocation.