Washington (CNN)North Korea issued a direct challenge to President Donald Trump with the launch of an ICBM missile that Defense Secretary James Mattis said demonstrates it has the ability to hit “everywhere in the world.”
Pyongyang blasted a missile that flew higher and farther than any of its past tests, despite repeated warnings from Trump, who has said he would counter the isolated north Asian country with “fire and fury” if it threatened the US.
Hours after the launch, Trump sounded more restrained, telling reporters Tuesday at the White House that the US “will handle” the situation. “We will take care of it,” the President said, adding later that North Korea “is a situation that we will handle.”
Mattis, who was with Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, outlined how much tougher that situation has become. The test missile, he said, went “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken” and demonstrates that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un now has the ability to hit “everywhere in the world basically.”
“The bottom line is, it’s a continued effort to build a threat — a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States,” Mattis concluded.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson strongly condemned the launch and called for redoubled international pressure on Pyongyang, saying that the US “remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization.” But he added a lightly veiled warning about limited US patience.
“Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now,” Tillerson said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the Armed Services Committee, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that, “If we have to go to war to stop this, we will. If there’s a war with North Korea it will be because North Korea brought it on itself, and we’re headed to a war if things don’t change.”