DONALD Trump has said “all options are on the table” for a US response to North Korea’s launch of a missile over Japan.

In a written statement, the US president said North Korea has “signalled its contempt for its neighbours, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behaviour”.

“Threatening and destabilising actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world,” Trump added. “All options are on the table.”

In a first, North Korea yesterday fired a mid-range ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload that flew over Japan and splashed into the northern Pacific Ocean.

The launch over the territory of a close US ally sent a clear message of defiance as Washington and South Korea conduct war games nearby.

Trump’s statement implies that military action remains an option in resolving the stand-off over North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons that could threaten America.

The US administration has in recent weeks been emphasising it wants to use economic and diplomatic pressure to achieve a negotiated solution.

Trump and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe 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 US positions are totally at one”.

The prime minister added that both nations were in “total agreement” that an emergency meeting was needed at the UN Security Council to step up pressure on North Korea after what he called an unprecedented threat.

He also said Trump expressed his “strong commitment” to defending Japan.

North Korea’s latest test came weeks after the UN Security Council voted unanimously to impose tough new sanctions against the government in Pyongyang.

It also followed a series of missile launches late on Friday, and came after a period in which the US and North Korea had traded heated rhetoric over Pyongyang’s continued missile tests, which violate UN Security Council resolutions.

Trump last week praised North Korea’s decision to back down from its earlier threats to attack the US territory of Guan.

“I respect the fact that I believe he [Kim Jong Un] is starting to respect us,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Phoenix. “I respect that fact very much. Respect that fact. And maybe, probably not, but maybe something positive can come about.”

Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff said the North Korean missile travelled around 1677 miles and reached a maximum height of 341 miles as it flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The launch, which seems to be the first to cross over Japan since 2009, will concern a region worried that each new missile test puts the North a step closer towards its goal of an arsenal of nuclear missiles that can reliably target the US.

South Korean officials could not immediately confirm if it was the North’s longest-ever missile test

North Korean missile launches have been happening at an unusually fast pace this year, and some analysts believe the North could have viable long-range nuclear missiles before the end ofTrump’s first term in early 2021.

The South Korean military said it is analysing the launch with the US and has strengthened its monitoring and preparation in case of further actions from North Korea.

Analysts speculate the North may have tested a new intermediate-range missile that Pyongyang recently threatened to fire towards the US territory of Guam, which hosts a major military base.

This missile landed nowhere near Guam, which is about 1550 miles south of Tokyo, but the length of the launch may have been designed for the North to show it could follow through on its threat.

Seoul says the missile was launched from Sunan, which is where Pyongyang’s international airport is, opening the possibility that North Korea launched a road-mobile missile from an airport runway.

North Korea will no doubt be watching the world’s reaction to see if it can use Tuesday’s flight over Japan as a precedent for future launches.

Japanese officials said there was no damage to ships or anything else reported, with a news outlet saying the missile separated into three parts.

“We will do our utmost to protect people’s lives,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

“This reckless act of launching a missile that flies over our country is an unprecedented, serious and important threat.”


Tuesday’s launch comes days after the North fired what was assessed as three short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and a month after its second flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say could reach deep into the US mainland when perfected.

It was North Korea’s 13th launch of ballistic missiles this year, said Roh Jae-cheon, spokesman for Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff.

South Korea’s foreign ministry warned that the North will face a “strong response” from the US-South Korean alliance if what it called nuclear and missile provocations continue.

South Korea’s foreign ministry urged Pyongyang to accept talks over its nuclear programme and acknowledge that abandoning its nuclear ambitions is the only way to guarantee its security and economic development.

In a rare move, South Korea’s military released footage of its own missile tests that were conducted last week.

The videos showed two types of new missiles with ranges of 497 miles and 310 miles being fired from truck-mounted launchers during three tests conducted on Thursday.

South Korea’s agency for defence development said the launches represented the last flight test for the longer-range missile before it is operationally deployed.

Such missiles, which would be latest additions to South Korea’s Hyumoo family of missiles, are considered key components in the so-called “kill chain” pre-emptive strike capability the South is pursuing to cope with the North’s growing nuclear and missile threat.

North Korea typically reacts with anger to the annual US-South Korean military drills, which are happening now, often testing weapons and threatening Seoul and Washington in its state-controlled media.

But animosity is higher than usual following threats by Mr Trump to unleash “fire and fury” on the North, and Pyongyang’s stated plan to consider firing some of its missiles near Guam.