North Korea test fires ballistic missile


  • Japan calls it ‘absolutely intolerable’; U.S. President Donald Trump assures Tokyo of full support.
  • North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea early on Sunday, the first such test since U.S. President Donald Trump was elected, and his administration indicated that Washington would have a calibrated response to avoid escalating tensions.
  • The launch marks the first test of Mr. Trump’s vow to get tough on an isolated North Korean regime that last year tested nuclear devices and ballistic missiles at an unprecedented rate in violation of United Nations resolutions.
  • Once fully developed, a North Korean ICBM could threaten the continental United States, which is about 9,000 km from North Korea.
  • The Trump administration is also likely to step up pressure on China to rein in North Korea, reflecting Mr. Trump’s previously stated view that Beijing has not done enough on this front, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Chinese Angle:

  • China is North Korea’s main ally but has been frustrated by Pyongyang’s repeated provocations, although it bristles at pressure from Washington and Seoul to curb the North and its young leader, Kim Jong Un.

US’ Response:

  • Mr. Trump and his aides are likely to weigh a series of possible responses, including new U.S. sanctions to tighten financial controls, an increase in naval and air assets in and around the Korean peninsula and accelerated installation of new missile defence systems in South Korea, the administration official said.
  • But the official said that given that the missile was believed not to have been an ICBM and that Pyongyang had not carried out a new nuclear explosion, any response will seek to avoid ratcheting up tensions.
  • Mr. Trump has pledged a more assertive approach to North Korea but given no clear sign of how his policy would differ from Mr. Obama’s so-called strategic patience.
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