Trump stands to support Japan as North Korea tests ballistic missile

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North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile, early Sunday, an official in Seoul said. This was first such test since US President Donald Trump was elected, and his administration indicated that Washington would have a calibrated response to avoid escalating tensions.

The test was of a medium- or intermediate-range missile that landed in the Sea of Japan, according to the US defence department, and not an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

The missile was launched from Pangyon in North Korea’s western region just before 8 a.m. (2300 GMT Saturday) and flew about 500 km (300 miles), the South’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The launch marks the first test of Trump’s vow to get tough on an isolated North Korean regime that last year tested nuclear devices and ballistic missiles at an unprecedented rate violating United Nations security council’s resolutions.

An US official said, that the Trump administration had been expecting a North Korean ‘provocation’ soon after taking office and will consider a full range of options in response, but these would be calibrated to show US resolve while avoiding escalation.

Trump said on Saturday night during a joint press briefing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida,“I just want everybody to understand, and fully know, that the United States of America is behind Japan, our great ally, 100 percent.” United States President Donald Trump on Saturday assured full support to Japan after North Korea test-launched its latest missile.

The latest test comes a day after Trump held a summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and also follows Trump’s phone call last week with Chinese President Xi Jinping. China is North Korea’s main ally but has been frustrated by Pyongyang’s repeated provocations.

Trump and his aides are likely to weigh a series of possible responses, including new US sanctions to tighten financial controls, an increase in naval and air assets in and around the Korean peninsula and accelerated installation of new missile defence systems in South Korea, the administration official said.