• North Korea fires missile over Japan
  • Citizens on Japan’s northern Hokkaido island warned to ‘evacuate to basement’
  • Donald Trump says ‘All options are on the table’
  • Japan condemns launch as ‘unprecedented threat’
  • China warns situation now at a ‘tipping point’
  • South Korea responds with bombing drills
  • UN Security Council to hold meeting on Tuesday
  • ‘There’s nowhere to run’: Japanese residents tell of ‘worrying’ alerts

US 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,” Mr Trump said in the statement released by the White House.

“Threatening and destabilising 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”.

North Korea fired a missile over Japan early on Tuesday morning, as Tokyo warned citizens in the north of the country to take cover.

An envoy from Pyongyang later accused the United States of driving the Korean peninsula towards “an extreme level of explosion”.

The launch also prompted a stark warning from China that tensions on the Korean peninsula had reached a “tipping point”.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing in Beijing that the situation was “now at a tipping point approaching a crisis.”

Japan’s warning system kicked in, advising citizens on its northern Hokkaido island to take precautions, as the missile headed towards land in what was a significant escalation of Kim Jong-un’s military posturing.

Map: North Korean missile test over japan

The missile later broke into three pieces and landed in the sea. It flew for around 1,700 miles, reaching a maximum altitude of 350 miles, South Korean officials said. The Pentagon confirmed the launch.

The Japanese military made no attempt to shoot down the unidentified missile, but condemned the launch in the strongest terms possible..

“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.”

Following a 40-minute phone call with Donald Trump, he said he and the US president had agreed to escalate the pressure on North Korea. “We must immediately hold an emergency meeting at the United Nations, and further strengthen pressure against North Korea,” Mr Abe said.

Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, and South Korea’s foreign minister agreed to consider tougher sanctions against the North in response to the missile test, South Korea said.

Yoon Young-chan, a spokesman for the presidential Blue House in Seoul, also told a briefing that South Korean fighter jets conducted bombing drills at a firing exercise ground after Pyongyang’s latest missile launch.

South Korea and the United States had discussed deploying additional “strategic assets” on the Korean peninsula, the presidential Blue House said in a statement, without giving any more details.

North Korea remained defiant.

“The US should know that it can neither browbeat the DPRK with any economic sanctions and military threats and blackmails nor make the DPRK flinch from the road chosen by itself,” North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun said later on Tuesday, using the initials of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said he was “outraged at (the) reckless provocation by North Korea”. He strongly condemned the “latest illegal missile launch”. Theresa May is flying to Japan on Wednesday for trade talks.

Kim has overseen more than 80 missile tests – more than both his father and grandfather combined.

The regime fired several short-range projectiles into the sea off its east coast on Saturday in what was thought to be a response to US-South Korean joint military exercises.

 

Pedestrians watch the news on a huge screen displaying the trajectory of the missile that flew over Japan Credit: AFP

Saturday’s launch was the first since Pyongyang test-fired a intercontinental ballistic missiles on July 28 that could have been designed to reach 6,200 miles, putting parts of the US mainland within reach. The North Korean dictator threatened to target Guam, the US territory, with a missile.

Analysts speculate the North may have tested  a Hwasong-12 missile, a new intermediate-range projectile that Pyongyang recently threatened to fire towards Guam.

In pictures: Japanese military might on display at the foot of Mount Fuji

The missile landed nowhere near Guam, which is about 1,550 miles south of Tokyo, but the length of Tuesday’s launch may have been designed for the North to show it could follow through on its threat.

“The launch doubled as a threat to Washington, not only because of the US military bases in Japan, but also that the North showed it has the real capability to fire missiles to waters near Guam if it chose to shoot them in that direction,” said Moon Seong Mook, a former South Korean military official and current analyst for the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy.

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 fired what it said was a rocket carrying a communications satellite into orbit over Japan in 2009. The United States, Japan and South Korea considered it a ballistic missile test.

“It’s pretty unusual,” said Jeffrey Lewis, head of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of Strategic Studies in California. “North Korea’s early space launches in 1998 and 2009 went over Japan, but that’s not the same thing as firing a missile.”

Television and radio broadcasters broke into their regular programming with a “J-Alert” warning citizens of the missile launch. Bullet train services were temporarily halted and warnings went out over loudspeakers in towns in Hokkaido.

“I was woken by the missile alert on my cellphone,” said Ayaka Nishijima, 41, an office worker from Morioka, the capital of Iwate prefecture, 300 km (180 miles) south of Cape Erimo.

“I didn’t feel prepared at all. Even if we get these alerts there’s nowhere to run. It’s not like we have a basement or bomb shelter, all we can do is get away from the window,” she told Reuters by text message.

Global markets reacted to the escalation in tensions, buying safe-haven assets such as gold, the Swiss franc and the Japanese yen, and selling stocks. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell almost 1 percent to a near four-month low, while South Korea‘s KOSPI index was down a similar percentage.

North Korea nuclear grid

Trump: All options are on the table

US President Donald Trump says all options to respond to North Korea are now on the table.

“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,” Mr 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”.

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