WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that “we will take care of it” in commenting on the latest intercontinental missile test by North Korea, a move that has hiked tensions in the region.
Trump told reporters in brief remarks from the White House after the launch that the US “will take care of it. ... It is a situation that we will handle.”
The president offered no further details, however he did say that the launch does not change anything about US strategy toward Pyongyang.
Pyongyang’s most recent previous launch was on Sept. 15, when a North Korean missile flew over northern Japan before plunging into the Pacific Ocean.
Tuesday’s launch is the 20th missile test undertaken by Pyongyang so far this year.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who was on hand with Trump for the president’s remarks, said that this latest missile reached a higher altitude than any of the regime’s previous tests, thus endangering both regional and world peace.
In a statement, the Pentagon said that the missile, launched from Sain Ni, near the North Korean capital, flew for about 1,000 kilometers (some 620 miles) before plunging into the Sea of Japan, within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that “diplomatic options” were available to resolve the nuclear controversy with North Korea.
“Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now. The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization and to ending belligerent actions by North Korea,” he said, adding however that Pyongyang’s “relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them must be reversed.”
The top US diplomat also said that “All nations must continue strong economic and diplomatic measures. In addition to implementing all existing UN sanctions, the international community must take additional measures to enhance maritime security, including the right to interdict maritime traffic transporting goods to and from” North Korea.
In his September address to the United Nations, Trump had threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it continued its military escalation, and he mockingly dubbed Kim Jong-un “Rocket Man” in response to his frequent missile tests.
In early November, Trump embarked on a week-and-a-half-long Asia tour during which he visited South Korea and Japan, along with other nations, and reaffirmed the US commitment to its allies in the region.