North Korea on Tuesday-- in an act of defiance-- fired a midrange ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload over Japan for the first time, sending a clear message to Washington and Seoul. The distance and type of missile test seemed designed to show that North Korea can back up a threat to target the U.S. territory of Guam, if it chooses to do so, while also establishing a potentially dangerous precedent that could see future missiles flying over Japan. Any new test worries Washington and its allies because it presumably puts the North a step closer toward its goal of an arsenal of nuclear missiles that can reliably target the United States. Tuesday's test, however, looks especially aggressive to Washington, Seoul and Tokyo. Reuters (Aug 29: Women walk past a large TV screen showing news about North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo) North Korea will no doubt be watching the world's reaction to see if it can use Tuesday's flight over Japan as a precedent for future launches.
South Korea's air force effectively fired back at North Korea's missile launch over Japan by conducting a live-fire drill involving powerful bombs, officials said early Tuesday. Four F-15 fighters dropped eight MK-84 bombs that accurately hit targets at a military field near South Korea's eastern coast, Seoul's presidential spokesman Park Su-hyun said. Each bomb has an explosive yield of a ton, according to the country's air force. Park also said South Korean national security director Chung Eui-yong called President Donald Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster to discuss the North's launch. North Korea typically reacts with anger to U.S.-South Korean military drills, which are happening now, often testing weapons and threatening Seoul and Washington in its state-controlled media.
U.S. President Donald Trump doubled down Tuesday in the United States' standoff with nuclear-armed North Korea, reiterating that "all options" -- an allusion to military action -- remain on the table after Pyongyang launched a midrange missile over its close Asian ally Japan. "Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world," Trump said in a statement. "All options are on the table." The U.S. leader made the remarks after the North test-fired a ballistic missile over Hokkaido early on Tuesday morning, the first unannounced launch of a missile designed to carry a nuclear payload to fly over Japan. The missile's launch, which stoked concern in Tokyo after flying for some 2,700 km and landing in the Pacific Ocean about 1,200 km east of Hokkaido, comes amid North Korea's ramped-up pace of missile tests, including 17 known test-firings this year, according to data compiled by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies North Korea Missile Test Database .
US President Donald Trump has said North Korea's latest missile launch signals "contempt" for its neighbours and the UN. He said the North would only increase its isolation and that "all options" were on the table. The missile flew over northern Japan's Hokkaido island before crashing into the northern Pacific Ocean. Pyongyang says it is being provoked by US-South Korea military exercises which it says are a rehearsal for invasion. Russia and China have also cited the drills as the source of the latest tensions.
In this photo provided by Eighth U.S. Army, a U.S. MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile is fired into the east sea during the combined military exercise against North Korea at an undisclosed location in South Korea, Wednesday, July 5, 2017. U.S. and South Korean forces, in response, engineered what was meant as a show of force for Pyongyang, with soldiers from the allied nations firing "deep strike" precision missiles into South Korean territorial waters. In this photo provided by Eighth U.S. Army, a U.S. MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile is fired into the east sea during the combined military exercise against North Korea at an undisclosed location in South Korea, Wednesday, July 5, 2017. U.S. and South Korean forces, in response, engineered what was meant as a show of force for Pyongyang, with soldiers from the allied nations firing "deep strike" precision missiles into South Korean territorial waters.