North Korea has reportedly launched what appeared to be a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on Tuesday.
Launched at 6:42 a.m. local time, the projectile was reported to have traveled around 37 miles, according to South Korean Defense Ministry officials cited by CNN.
Officials also suggested that it may have been an attempt by the North Koreans to launch a land-based version of a rocket from a submarine, given its proximity to a known North Korean submarine base, The Washington Post reported.
Though officials from US Pacific Command (PACOM) – the US’s regional asset in the area – detected a KN-15 medium range ballistic missile during their initial assessment, they determined it was of little threat.
“The North American Aerospace Defense Command determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America,” said Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for PACOM, to CNN.
A spokesperson for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered a brief statement in regards to the incident on Tuesday evening:
“North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”
The missile launch, one of many in recent months, also took place the same day senior White House officials delivered a stern message on North Korea’s nuclear program.
“The clock has now run out, and all options are on the table,” one of the officials said in a CNN report.
The warning came from two senior White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, during the pivotal time when President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his estate in Florida later this week.
The officials also pointed toward the failure of prior administration’s efforts to curb the growing threat of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, and said that North Korea is a “matter of urgent interest for the President and the administration as a whole.”
Additionally, the officials said they planned on pursuing a way to influence China – North Korea’s closest ally – into restraining North Korea’s ambitions.
- Reuters/KCNA KCNA
The comments from the officials echoed the same tone as Jack Keane, a four-star US Army general who declined a cabinet position from Trump, who recently addressed the issue on North Korea.
“A pre-emptive strike against launch facilities, underground nuclear sites, artillery and rocket response forces and regime leadership targets may be the only option left on the table,” Keane said to The Times of London. “We are rapidly and dangerously moving towards a military option.”
In an interview with The Financial Times earlier this week, Trump also mentioned that the US would act unilaterally to stop North Korea, if China did not assist with the process.
“China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Trump said. “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
After Financial Times published its interview with Trump on Sunday, Gen. John Hyten, the commander of US Strategic Command, was quick to assure that any option to address North Korea’s nuclear program would have to involve China.
“Any solution to the North Korean problem has to involve China,” Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, according CNN’s report. “I’ll provide those military options [to the president] … I look at it from a strategic perspective and I can’t see a solution that doesn’t involve China.”