By John Wagner
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump reiterated Tuesday that “all options are on the table” following North Korea’s latest provocative missile launch, this one fired over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.
“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 said in a statement.
“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world,” he president said. “ All options are on the table.”
Despite the grave warning, Trump’s statement was notably measured in contrast to his response to previous tests of ballistic missile launches by North Korea. After a recent spate, he promised “fire and fury” if the isolated nation continued to provoke the United States.
Trump also said earlier this month that he would make North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “truly regret” harming the United States or its allies.
The statement came more than 12 hours after White House aides had first signaled a statement by the president was in the works.
The Japanese prime minister’s office said Trump and Abe talked by phone for 40 minutes after the launch, agreeing that they should further increase pressure on North Korea.
The missile appears to have been a Hwasong-12, the intermediate-range ballistic missile technically capable of flying 3,000 miles that North Korea has been threatening to launch toward the U.S. territory of Guam.
But North Korea launched Tuesday’s missile to the east, over Hokkaido and into the Pacific Ocean, rather than on a southward path toward Guam, apparently to test its flight on a normal trajectory without crossing a “red line” of aiming at the United States.
Still, this launch, coming after North Korea last month launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles theoretically capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, underscore both Kim’s defiance of the international community and his determination to press ahead with his missile program.
Kim has now ordered the launch of 18 missiles this year alone, compared with the 16 missiles his father, Kim Jong Il, fired during 17 years in power.