After weeks of inactivity, North Korea has launched another missile. This time, the stakes seem to be higher. The missile has demonstrated an increase in North Korean capabilities. Now Defense Secretary James Mattis said, speaking after the launch, the North Koreans have a missile capable of carrying a payload “everywhere in the world.”
The Hwasong-14 missile launched early Wednesday, local time. The missile is believed to have flown higher than any of the other North Korean tests. Though it landed in the ocean between Japan and the Korean peninsula, the height of the launch suggests it could hit a target anywhere on the planet.
“The missile launched Wednesday spent around 53 minutes in the air,” CNN writes, “reaching a height of up to 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles), before splashing down in waters around 210 kilometers (130 miles) west of Japan’s Aomori prefecture, according to authorities in Japan and South Korea.”
President Trump, responding to the news of the launch, told reporters at the White House that the US “will handle” the situation. “We will take care of it,” the President said. Later, he reiterated his resolve, saying simply that the launch “is a situation that we will handle.”
President Trump’s vague responses are fodder for media speculation, but don’t carry as much weight as the measured response of Secretary Mattis. The missile, Mattis noted, went “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken.” The North Korean military can now hit “everywhere in the world, basically.”
“The bottom line is, it’s a continued effort to build a threat — a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States,” Mattis said.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson weighed in, too, saying the United States “remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization.”
“Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now,” Tillerson added.
Others are less optimistic about the possibility of peace. Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. The Republican from South Carolina serves on the Armed Services Committe, and told CNN, “If we have to go to war to stop this, we will. If there’s a war with North Korea it will be because North Korea brought it on itself, and we’re headed to a war if things don’t change.”