After a brief period where international observers dared to hope that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un had begun to see some form of reason, the world’s most dangerous dictator proved this week that he is still pushing forward on an aggressive plan to force the U.S. and its allies to take him seriously. In one of the boldest moves yet, North Korea launched a test missile over Japan on Monday – a missile that experts say could have fit a nuclear warhead.
The launch drew immediate condemnation from President Trump.
“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 a statement. “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.”
Some speculated that the ballistic missile launch was designed to demonstrate that North Korea was fully capable of following through on its threat to annihilate the U.S. territory of Guam with a nuclear weapon.
It may also have been a shot across the bow at U.S. ally Japan, which has been side by side with the Trump administration in pressuring Kim Jong Un to back away from his nuclear ambitions. In a statement, the White House confirmed that both Japan and the U.S. remained steadily committed to thwarting Kim Jong Un’s reign of terror.
“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,” said the statement, referring to a phone call the president had with the Japanese prime minister on Monday.
In a separate statement, an outraged Abe harshly condemned the missile launch.
“This launch of a North Korean missile is an unprecedented serious and grave threat to Japan,” he said after speaking with President Trump. “I would like to make the utmost effort to protect the lives and assets of the Japanese people under a strong alliance between Japan and US.”
While it’s unclear what message Pyongyang was trying to send with the launch, most experts see this as an escalation on the part of the DPRK. In comments to CNN, David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists said the test was an indication of Kim Jong Un’s confidence.
“It is a big deal that they overflew Japan, which they have carefully avoided doing for a number of years,” he said.
As President Trump deals with the first major crisis of his administration in Hurricane Harvey, it’s clear that the looming crisis on the Korean Peninsula still awaits his leadership. We pray he – unlike his predecessors – is truly up to the challenge.