White House: North Korea a “flagrant menace” after the test launch of a ballistic missile, the seventh such firing this year.
North Korea launched a ballistic missile Sunday morning that flew around 430 miles before crashing into the sea, U.S. and South Korean military officials said, in what appears to be the latest missile test in defiance of United Nations sanctions.
The unidentified ballistic missile was launched at 5:27 a.m. Sunday Seoul time (4:27 p.m. Saturday ET), off Kusong north of the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
The missile flew around 30 minutes and landed in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary said.
The missile is not believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, U.S. Pacific Command said. Defense officials said the U.S. is assessing whether it was a success of failure. “Right now it sure looks successful,” one U.S. defense official said.
U.S. President Donald Trump was briefed, the White House press secretary’s office said in a statement that said “North Korea has been a flagrant menace for far too long,” and which also suggested that Russia should be concerned.
“With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil — in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan — the President cannot imagine that Russia is pleased,” the White House statement said.
South Korea’s newly elected president, Moon Jae-in, called for the national security council to meet on the matter, a presidential spokesperson said.
A South Korean military official said the missile traveled around 700 km, or just over 430 miles. The military official said “we are totally ready to meet and deter any and all military provocation.”
Sunday’s missile test comes after several North Korean missile launches or attempts this year. Late last month, North Korea launched what was believed to be a short-ranged ballistic missile, but the missile exploded just after launch.
There have been escalating tensions in the Korean peninsula over the North’s missile tests as well as the deployment in South Korea of the U.S. missile defense system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.
The White House press secretary’s office in the statement urged tougher sanctions against North Korea.
“The United States maintains our ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea. Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea,” the White House said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the missile launch. “We absolutely cannot accept this,” Abe said. Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada was quoted by broadcaster NHK as saying the missile may be a new type of missile based on the altitude reached.
North Korea has conducted five suspected nuclear tests, including two last year. The country has warned it was ready to test an intercontinental ballistic missile “at any time” but has never launched such a missile.
The Trump administration in March declared a change in policy towards North Korea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the “the policy of strategic patience has ended” during a visit to South Korea, in which he also said military action could be on the table if North Korea elevates the threat of its weapons programs.
President Donald Trump in an interview with Reuters last month raised the possibility of a “major, major conflict” with North Korea if other solutions don’t work.
Trump earlier this month told Bloomberg that he would be open to meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un if it was under the right circumstances and appropriate to do so. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer later cited North Korea’s provocative actions and other factors and said “clearly the conditions are not there right now.”