Weeks after President Donald Trump warned North Korea it would face "fire and fury" if it continued to escalate its nuclear missile program, Pyongyang launched another ballistic missile early Tuesday, this time over northern Japan, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The missile launch was confirmed by the Pentagon, which said the military was still assessing the situation. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it a "reckless act," telling reporters he considered the launch over his country to be "an unprecedented, serious, and important threat."
In a statement Tuesday, Trump reiterated that "all options are on the table," and that "threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world."
"The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear," he said. [T]his regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior."
Wednesday, Trump tweeted, "The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!"
Trump and Abe spoke after the launch Tuesday and "agreed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, as well as to countries around the world," the White House said in a statement.
The United Nations Security Council also strongly condemned the launch Tuesday, and demanded that Pyongyang cease its "outrageous actions" in regards to its missile program.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres also said that North Korea's continued missile tests are undermining stability and security efforts in the region, and urged the country to re-open communication with the international community, according to a statement.
North Korea has sent missiles over Japan's main islands twice before — once in 1998 and again in 2009 — but the latest launch comes amid heightened tensions between the US and North Korea. It also happened just days after Pyongyang fired three short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.
Those missiles were launched within a 39-minute span around noon local time Saturday, a spokesman for US Pacific Command confirmed. The Associated Press, citing Seoul's joint chiefs of staff, reported that the projectiles flew about 155 miles into the sea.
The first and third missiles failed mid-flight, while the second missile "appears to have blown up almost immediately," US Pacific Command said in a statement.
The latest actions from North Korea come less than three weeks after the Trump administration traded a series of escalating threats with the Kim Jung Un regime over its nuclear program.
Trump's rhetoric—including his "fire and fury" remark—were a marked contrast to previous presidents' handling of North Korea. In 1998, for instance, the first time North Korea sent a missile sailing over Japan, the Clinton administration criticized the action but then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright simply said she would raise the issue in then-ongoing talks with Pyongyang.
The heightened tensions followed a Washington Post report that revealed a US defense assessment concluded that North Korea has developed the ability to attach a nuclear warhead to its missiles.
In July, North Korea successfully tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that analysts believe could reach the US mainland. A spokesman for North Korea's People's Army also appeared to threaten the US territory of Guam, stating the country was creating a plan to retaliate against the US there.
In a statement, the spokesman for US Pacific Command said the missiles on Saturday did not pose a threat to North America or Guam.
—Megha Rajagopalan contributed reporting.