UPDATE 3 — 2:16 p.m. EDT: Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, said the Defense Department is confident it can defend the U.S. homeland from any missile attack launched by North Korea, citing a successful ICBM interceptor test conducted in June.
“So we do have confidence in our ability to defend against the limited threat, the nascent threat that is there,” he said.
UPDATE 2 — 1:35 p.m. EDT: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un responded negatively on Wednesday to China and Russia’s call for a deal between Pyongyang and the U.S. and South Korea in order to cool escalating tensions between the parties.
In a statement published by the Korean Central News Agency, Kim said his nation “would neither put its nukes and ballistic rockets on the table of negotiations in any case nor flinch even an inch from the road of bolstering the nuclear force chosen by itself unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated.”
UPDATE — 11:51 a.m. EDT: President Trump signaled his forfeiture of pursuing a diplomatic solution with China to North Korea’s military aggression on Twitter Wednesday morning, intimating the two have shown increased cooperation since the new U.S. administration took office in January.
Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2017
The U.S. State Department has announced the rocket launched by North Korea Tuesday into the Sea of Japan was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), prompting joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises and a strong rebuke from Secretary Rex Tillerson.
Pyongyang confirmed the weapon as an ICBM Wednesday in a statement by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, which some military analysts believe has the capability of reaching Alaska and possibly the West Coast mainland.
“Global action is required to stop a global threat,” Tillerson said in a statement Tuesday. “Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime.”
Shortly following the North Korean rocket test, China and Russia issued a joint statement calling for Pyongyang to cease the development of nuclear-capable missiles and for the U.S. and South Korea to end joint military drills. Early Wednesday, however, the democratic allies launched ballistic missiles of their own off the Korean Peninsula’s southeast coast.
According to CNN sources, U.S. government brass, including State and Defense department officials, as well as Trump administration personnel, met on Tuesday to discuss a “measured response,” to North Korea, which could include sending additional military support to the East Asian region.
The U.S., along with Japan and South Korea, have also called for an emergency Security Council meeting Wednesday afternoon in New York. Permanent member nations on the panel include both Russia and China.
According to Pyongyang, the “Hwasong-14” ICBM was launched on a particularly steep path, flying up to 1,741 miles above the earth’s surface before landing 580 miles away in just under 40 minutes. U.S. experts estimate that the missile has the capability of traveling a distance of nearly 5,000 miles, however.
American aerospace engineer and rocket expert, John Schilling, said Tuesday’s launch was “far more successful than expected”, and gave North Korea an estimated one to two years before it develops the technology necessary to deliver a nuclear warhead via an ICBM.
[NPR] [CNN] [Reuters] [AP] [Photo courtesy AP via New York Daily News]