After a period of relative quiet, North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Tuesday, its first such test in over two months. The missile took off at 3:17am Wednesday North Korea time from the town of Pyongsong and landed in waters claimed by Japan.
It was first reported by the Yonhap news agency reports, which cited South Korean military officials. U.S. officials later confirmed it.
Reports indicated that the missile flew for about 54 minutes, landing about 600 miles from the launch site. It also flew higher than any previous North Korean missile, and was calculated to have a range of about 8,100 miles — far enough to hit the Eastern seaboard of the United States.
Speaking to reporters later in the day, President Trump said, simply, “We will take care of it.”
Six minutes after the launch, South Korea countered with its own missile test off its East coast, in a show of strength.
In September, North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test, a provocation that led President Trump to repeatedly threaten the destruction of the country. Kim Jong-un upped his rhetorical war in response, memorably caling the president a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” Since then, North Korea’s pausing of tests has at least temporarily cooled President Trump’s rhetoric. During his trip to Asia in October, he even broached the idea of befriending Kim Jong-un.
But on November 20, Trump decided to re-list North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, a classification that had been dropped during the Bush administration. Whether Tuesday’s launch is connected to Trump’s decision is unclear.