Kim Jong Un’s regime in North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on September 15 that passed over the island of Hokkaido in Japan. Although the launch was only a test, it triggered sirens and emergency responses in Japan.
North Korea launched a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile, the same kind that was previously tested in August. The missile travelled approximately 2,300 miles before falling into the Pacific Ocean. This distance demonstrates North Korea’s capacity to hit the U.S. territory of Guam, which Kim Jong Un has recently threatened to target. Despite the distance, experts within the Union of Concerned Scientists still question the accuracy of the missiles given their early stage of development.
Following the launch, the New York Times reported that Kim Jong Un specified that the final goal “is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about a military option.”
In response, U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster declared, “For those who have said, and been commenting about a lack of a military option, there is a military option,” according to CNN. However, McMaster added that a military option is not the United States’ preference.
The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the launch, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, mimicked the strong words of McMaster before clarifying that diplomacy and sanctions were the preferred resolution to the crisis.
On September 11, the U.N. Security Council passed harsher sanctions against North Korea for continuing its missile tests. The new sanctions include a ban on textile imports, North Korea’s second largest industry, as well as a reduction on crude oil imports. Following the sanctions, North Korea threatened the U.S. with the “greatest pain.”
President Trump, however, viewed the sanctions as trivial, saying, “I don’t know if it has any impact, but certainly it was nice to get a 15 to nothing vote. But those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen.”
In response to the North Korean tests, the South Korean military conducted a missile test of its own. Tensions in the region have been rising as North Korea continues to plug away at its goal of a successful nuclear program,with no signs of stopping in the near future.