Keeping all options on table: White House on North Korea

Sunday, 03 Sep, 2017

The U.S. and South Korean militaries conducted live-fire bombing exercises in South Korea on Thursday, an act later called "rash" by North Korea's state-run news agency.

The comments follow North Korea's test Tuesday of its Hwasong-12 missile that flew over northern Japan before crashing 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) east of Hokkaido's Cape Erimo.

The US also has been maintaining a diplomatic back channel with North Korea.
Trump offered a surprisingly subdued response to Pyongyang's latest missile test on Tuesday, avoiding a repeat of his bombastic warnings earlier this month of a potential military confrontation.

During the plenary session, military officials from South Korea, Japan and USA gave detailed technical briefings on North Korea's weapons programmes and their countries' responses, such as joint military exercises and defence programmes.

Amid the heightened tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula, the USA and South Korea have been conducting annual military drills.

Abe spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump by phone for about half an hour that night.

But the US Defence Secretary, James Mattis, insisted on Wednesday that there was still room for diplomacy.

A United States official, however, told CNN the test had been planned for a long time and before North Korea's latest provocation.

North Korea also became embroiled in a war of words with Trump, threatening to fire missiles at the US Pacific territory of Guam, while the US president threatened Pyongyang with "fire and fury". "Talking is not the answer", he wrote. Experts say Kim is clearly seeking a real nuclear deterrent against the United States to ensure the survival of his government and likely believes that will strengthen his negotiating position when North Korea returns to talks.

North Korea's test on Tuesday marked the first time that a missile from the North had flown over another country.

Munitions from a U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and Republic of Korea Air Force bilateral mission explode at the Pilsung Range, South Korea. Jean-Yves Le Drian called the situation following a string of missile tests by Pyongyang "extremely serious" and urged the reclusive state to turn to dialogue to ease spiralling tensions. "All options are on the table", he said.

Mattis isn't the only Cabinet official contradicting the president's bellicose rhetoric about North Korea, which reached a new level earlier this month when Trump threatened nuclear strikes against North Korea if Kim Jong-un doesn't stop issuing threats of his own.

On Wednesday, the US conducted an allegedly pre-planned test intercept of a ballistic missile off of the coast of Hawaii.