'All options on the table' after latest missile test
North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan; Trump and Abe react sharply
TOKYO/SEOUL: North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan's northern Hokkaido island into the sea early yesterday, prompting warnings for residents to take cover and drawing a sharp reaction from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump.
The test, one of the most provocative from the reclusive state, came as the US and South Korean forces conduct annual military exercises on the peninsula, which the North sees as preparation for invasion.
North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under leader Kim Jong Un in defiance of United Nations sanctions but firing projectiles over mainland Japan is rare.
After the incident, Mr Trump warned that "all options are on the table".
The White House said in a statement: "Threatening and destabilising actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world."
It said the world "has received North Korea's latest message loud and clear: This regime has signalled its contempt for its neighbours, for all members of the UN, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behaviour".
Mr Trump spoke to Mr Abe after the missile launch.
In a separate statement, the White House said both leaders agreed that "North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat" to the rest of the world.
North Korea’s reckless action is an unprecedented, a serious and grave threat to our nation.Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Said Mr Abe: "North Korea's reckless action is an unprecedented, a serious and grave threat to our nation."
Both countries agreed to increase pressure on North Korea.
Mr Abe told reporters that Mr Trump also said the US was "100 per cent with Japan".
North Korean Ambassador to the UN, Mr Han Tae Song, said the US was driving the Korean Peninsula "towards an extreme level of explosion" by deploying strategic assets and conducting nuclear war drills.
In China, North Korea's lone major ally, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said the crisis was "approaching a critical juncture".
South Korea's military said the missile was launched from near Pyongyang just before 6am local time and flew 2,700km, reaching an altitude of 550km.
Four South Korean fighter jets bombed a military firing range following the launch, after President Moon Jae In asked the military to demonstrate capabilities to counter North Korea.
South Korea and the US discussed deploying additional assets on the Korean Peninsula, the South's presidential Blue House said in a statement.
North Korea remains defiant.
The regime's propaganda paper Rodong Sinmun said: "The US should know it can neither browbeat the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) with any economic sanctions and military threats and blackmail nor make the DPRK flinch from the road chosen by itself." - WIRE SERVICES