North Korea on Saturday fired a ballistic missile test, the South Korean Yonhap News Agency reports, the first since President Donald Trump took office.
The missile was launched around 5:55 p.m. Eastern from Banghyeon in North Pyongan Province and landed in the Sea of Japan. It flew about 300 miles, the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
"Our assessment is that it is part of a show of force in response to the new U.S. administration's hardline position against the North," the office said according to Reuters.
"The military is determining if the missile is the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile," a military source told the Yonhap News Agency.
The Musudan missile has a reported maximum estimated range of 2,500 miles.
A State Department official told CNN it was "aware of reports and monitoring the situation carefully."
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called North Korea's actions "foolhardy," and it should "only steel our resolve to deploy missile defense systems and make the North Korean regime’s provocations as feckless as they are irresponsible. It’s time the regime had to face consequences for its behavior and that we said, ‘enough is enough.’”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in early January said that his country was close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, putting the U.S. on edge and eliciting a warning tweet from President Donald Trump.
"Research and development of cutting-edge arms equipment is actively progressing and ICBM rocket test launch preparation is in its last stage," Kim said.
Trump's new Defense Secretary James Mattis last week promised an "overwhelming" response to any attack mounted by Kim.
"North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program and engage in threatening rhetoric and behavior," he said at a press conference in Seoul on Friday.
Trump, while posing for photos with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and their wives before dinner Saturday night in Mar-a-Lago, Fla., ignored questions shouted to him about the North Korea missile test.
The UN has placed sanctions on North Korea over nuclear and ballistic missile testing, most recently imposing a cap on coal exports, but that hasn’t stopped Kim as his country’s nuclear capabilities have sharply increased.
North Korea conducted 20 ballistic missile tests in 2016 but has never successfully flight-tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. Saturday's test was a step in that direction, says retired Lt. General Mark Hertling.
"That's the goal of the North Korean politicians," he told CNN. "This intermediate ballistic missile is certainly dangerous. It has a greater range than some of the Musudan missiles that they have been testing prior to that. And it's not only a concern for the United States to hit the mainland, but it also has concerns for all of our Asia partners."
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