Following North Korea’s latest provocation, President Donald Trump has said the U.S. will strengthen its military to defend itself and its allies from the threat posed by Kim Jong-un’s expanding arsenal of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.
North Korea tested a ballistic missile Tuesday evening. The U.S. military initially assessed that the missile was the new KN-15 medium-range missile; however, U.S. defense officials later suggested that the missile was an extended-range scud that malfunctioned, causing it to spin out of control and crash into the sea.
U.S. officials, including Trump, communicated with allies after the launch.
Speaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump “made clear that the United States will continue to strengthen its ability to deter and defend itself and its allies with the full range of its military capabilities,” the White House said in a statement.
He reportedly stressed that “all options are on the table,” a statement he has made multiple times when addressing the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile threat to the U.S. and its allies.
The White House recently completed a review of potential North Korea policy options.
In addition to tougher sanctions and pressuring Beijing to rein in Pyongyang, Trump has also suggested that he will strengthen allied missile defense capabilities. The deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system is already underway. The president could also consider the deployment of additional systems, enhance cyber warfare capabilities to disable or disrupt enemy systems, and or the movement of greater numbers of strategic combat assets into the Asia Pacific.
The aim appears to be a dual economic and military approach to pressure North Korea.
North Korea has been increasingly provocative in recent weeks. The North has tested three missiles, fired four missiles into the Sea of Japan in a military drill rehearsing strikes on U.S. bases in Japan, and conducted multiple rocket engine tests in possible preparation for the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Furthermore, there is evidence that North Korea may conduct a sixth nuclear test in the near future.
The State Department has announced that the “time for talk is over,” indicating that the new administration is preparing to act and deal with a problem that has puzzled world leaders for decades.
The administration has made it clear that any threat to the U.S. and its allies will be met with an “overwhelming response.”
“America’s commitments to defending our allies and to upholding our extended deterrence guarantees remain ironclad,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated in South Korea in early February, “Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming.”
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