and ROBERT BURNS
WASHINGTON - North Korea abruptly ended a 10-week pause in its weapons testing Tuesday by launching what the Pentagon said was an intercontinental ballistic missile - possibly its longest-range test yet - a move that will escalate already high tensions with Washington.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said the missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 620 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan within 200 nautical miles of Japan’s coast. It flew for 53 minutes, Japan’s defense minister said.
South Korea, a key U.S. ally separated from the North by a highly militarized border, responded with shorter-range missile tests of its own to mimic striking the North Korea launch site, which it said lies not far from the North Korean capital.
The launch is North Korea’s first since it fired an intermediate range missile over Japan on Sept. 15, and it appeared to shatter chances that the hiatus could lead to renewed diplomacy over the reclusive country’s nuclear program. U.S. officials have sporadically floated the idea of direct talks with North Korea if it maintained restraint.
An intercontinental ballistic missile test is considered particularly provocative. It would signal further progress by Pyongyang in developing a weapon of mass destruction that could strike the U.S. mainland, which President Donald Trump has vowed to prevent - using military force if necessary.
In response to the launch, Trump said the United States will “take care of it.” He told reporters: “It is a situation that we will handle.” He did not elaborate.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that Trump was briefed on the situation “while missile was still in the air.”
Manning, the Pentagon spokesman, said the North American Aerospace Defense Command, known as NORAD, “determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America, our territories or our allies.”
U.S. scientist David Wright said that based on initial reports on the altitude and duration of the test, it appeared to be North Korea’s longest-range test yet. If flown on a standard trajectory rather than at a lofted angle, the missile would have a range of more than 8,100 miles, said Wright, a physicist at the Union for Concerned Scientists.