US and South Korea consider military response options after latest North Korea missile test threatens Japan

US and South Korea consider military response options after latest North Korea missile test threatens JapanThe United States was considering "military response options" on Friday night after North Korea carried out its second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile in a month. The Pentagon confirmed that the missile, which flew for 45 minutes, travelled an estimated 600 miles and landed west of Japan's Hokkaido island, was an ICBM. It flew for six minutes longer than the previous one, on July 4. Washington,  which has branded North Korea the "most urgent and dangerous threat to peace," condemned the launch as reckless. "By threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy, and deprive its people,"  Donald Trump said in a statement. "The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region." As Pyongyang confirmed the launch, South Korea said it was ready to take its own steps to deal with the threat. Song Young-moo, South Korea's defence minister,   said Seoul would prepare independent measures.. "Along with joint efforts to deter proliferation (of North Korea's nuclear threat) we will prepare independent measure to curb it as soon as possible," Song told a press conference in Seoul, just minutes after Pyongyang said its second missile test was meant as a "stern warning" for the United States. Experts said the North's ICBM launched on Friday was capable of striking Los Angeles and other U.S. cities and the United States and South Korea responded to the missile test by staging a joint missile exercise. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, has called a meeting of the national security council to assess the launch. Graphic: North Korea missile launch “I have received the first report that North Korea again launched a missile and it possibly landed inside the exclusive economic zone,” said Mr Abe. He called the launch “a serious and real threat”, while Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s government spokesman, said: “North Korea’s repeated provocative acts absolutely cannot be accepted.” US and South Korean military officials were discussing military options last night. Marine General Joseph Dunford was joined by the Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of US Pacific Command, when they called General Lee Sun-jin, chairman of the South Korean Joint Chief of Staff. Kim Jong-un watches performance celebrating ICBM launch 01:27 "During the call Dunford and Harris expressed the ironclad commitment to the US-Republic of Korea alliance. The three leaders also discussed military response options," said Captain Greg Hicks, a spokesman for Gen Dunford.  While the Pentagon has long planned for the possibility of conflict with North Korea, the blunt language in the statement marked a departure from previous public reactions to missile tests. The Pentagon, which earlier this week warned that North Korea could have a nuclear-enabled ICBM as early as next year, said it detected the launch almost immediately.  US Ambassador: We are prepared to use "considerable military forces" on North Korea 00:37 Donald Trump’s administration has said that the period of ‘strategic patience’ towards North Korea is over, US officials have also expressed growing frustration with Beijing for not doing more to pressure its neighbour to rein in its military ambitions. The US and South Korea carry out missile drill to counter North Korea test 01:24 Britain and Australia this week joined the US in calling for China to exert more pressure on Pyongyang. However, China says it has little leverage over leaders in Pyongyang, and regularly calls on the US and South Korea to halt military drills in the region as a means of diffusing tensions. Reports this week suggest that Beijing is preparing for a potential crisis along its shared border with North Korea by building bunkers for civilians and realigning forces in the region. The US and China earlier this week said they are making progress on a new UN resolution that would impose additional sanctions against North Korea in response to the ICBM launch. The rogue state is already under tough UN sanctions which have been enforced since it carried out its first of five nuclear tests in 2006.

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