President Donald Trump said all options to respond to North Korea were on the table after Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile over Japan earlier on Tuesday.
“The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” Trump said in the statement released by the White House.
“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table,” Trump said.
President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan conferred by telephone over the latest missile test.
The White House said the leaders agreed that North Korea poses “a grave and growing direct threat” to the United States, Japan, South Korea and countries around the world.
“President Trump and Prime Minister Abe committed to increasing pressure on North Korea, and doing their utmost to convince the international community to do the same,” the White House said.
Abe said in a statement that “Japan’s and the U.S. positions are totally at one.”
The prime minister added that both nations were in “total agreement” that an emergency meeting was needed at the U.N. Security Council to step up pressure on North Korea after what he called an unprecedented threat. He also said President Trump expressed his “strong commitment” to defending Japan.
Earlier on Tuesday North Korea accused the United States of driving the Korean peninsula towards “an extreme level of explosion” and declared that it was justified in responding with “tough countermeasures.”
The combative statement came hours before North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan’s northern Hokkaido Island into the sea, drawing a sharp reaction from Japan, the United States, South Korea and other states.
Han Tae Song, North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, did not explicitly refer to his country’s latest test. But he said U.S. “pressure and provocative acts” would only give his country grounds to take unspecified measures.
“It is an undeniable fact that the U.S. is driving the situation of the Korean Peninsula towards an extreme level of explosion by deploying huge strategic assets around the peninsula, by conducting a series of nuclear war drills and maintaining nuclear freeze and blackmail for over half a century,” Han told the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
Fears have grown over North Korea’s development of missiles and nuclear weapons since Pyongyang test-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in July. Those fears worsened after President Trump warned that North Korea would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States.
Joint U.S.-South Korea military drills, currently taking place on the peninsula, are part of “long-standing U.S. hostile policy” toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Han said.
“Now that the U.S. has openly declared its hostile intention towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by waging aggressive joint military exercises despite repeated warnings … my country has every reason to respond with tough countermeasures as an exercise of its right to self-defense,” Han said.
“And the U.S. should be wholly responsible for the catastrophic consequences it will entail.”
U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood, speaking to reporters, said that North Korea’s test was “another provocation” and “big concern” to be discussed by the U.N. Security Council later in the day.
“My country and I know a number of other countries are going to continue to demand that North Korea end these provocative acts and take a different path,” Wood told the forum.
The United States has “an iron-clad commitment to its allies,” he added.
Both Mr. Wood and South Korea’s envoy Kim Inchul called for Pyongyang to resume talks on giving up its nuclear arsenal.
“Denuclearization is the only way forward to guarantee security and economic viability instead of continuing with provocations which are unacceptable,” Kim said.