North Korea fired a projectile (missile) into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, on Wednesday morning, U.S. and South Korean officials said.
The United States believes the projectile was likely a ballistic missile, according to a U.S. official. It is one of several the country has test-fired in recent months.
The test elicited a terse response from the U.S. State Department, unlike the standard diplomatic condemnations that usually follow Pyongyang’s missile tests.
“North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in the statement.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch and said the country’s National Security Council would meet on the issue.
North Korea’s missile test comes just a day before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits U.S. President Donald Trump for a summit in Florida, and as the U.S., Japan and South Korea wrap up a round of trilateral naval military drills off the Korean Peninsula.
The United States has been pushing China to put pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear program and missile testing, but Trump said on Sunday the United States would be prepared to act alone to stop North Korea.
A senior White House official on Tuesday said: “The clock has now run out, and all options are on the table,” pointing to the failure of successive administrations’ efforts to negotiate an end to the country’s nuclear program.
The primary concern surrounding North Korea’s weapons program is that Pyongyang could eventually equip long-range missiles with a nuclear warhead.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests including two last year, but experts said the country still hasn’t developed nuclear warheads that can be mounted onto missiles.
“Before the end of President Trump’s current term, the North Koreans will probably be able to reach Seattle with an indigenously produced nuclear weapon aboard an indigenously produced intercontinental ballistic missile,” Michael Hayden, who served as the director of the CIA between 2006 to 2009, said Tuesday while speaking at Johns Hopkins University.
Hayden went on to call North Korea the intelligence community’s biggest challenge.