North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday said his nation’s latest missile launch is a “meaningful prelude” to containing the U.S. territory of Guam, according to state media there.
Kim also expressed “great satisfaction” about Tuesday’s launch of a ballistic missile intended to carry a nuclear weapon over Japan, a close American ally.
“[It’s] necessary to positively push forward the work for putting the strategic force on a modern basis by conducting more ballistic missile rocket launching drills with the Pacific as a target in the future,” he added, according to North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
KCNA reported that Tuesday’s launch was a “muscle-flexing” countermeasure to annual military drills conducted together by the U.S. and South Korea.
This year’s edition of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint exercises between American and South Korean military forces concludes Thursday.
KCNA also reported that Tuesday’s missile was an intermediate-range Hwasong-12, a projectile North Korea first successfully tested in May.
Tuesday’s launch appeared designed to prove that Pyongyang can back up its threat earlier this month to strike near Guam, which hosts key U.S. military bases it finds menacing.
The test also seemed manufactured to warn Japan that North Korea could establish a future precedent of firing missiles over its territory.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday said the missile reached a maximum height of 341 miles above the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
The missile also traveled 1,677 miles after launch, they added, which is likely the longest ever from North Korea.
President Trump on Tuesday said that the world has received North Korea’s new message “loud and clear” following its missile launch earlier that day.
“This regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable behavior,” he said in a statement.
“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world,” Trump added. “All options are on the table.”
Trump earlier this month threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” if the Asian nation continued to threaten the U.S.
North Korea has long sought nuclear weapons and improved missiles for delivering them to intimidate nations like America it deems hostile.