North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile early Wednesday local time that flew 2,800 miles into the air, or about 10 times higher than the International Space Station. It "went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they've taken," Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters, adding that Pyongyang's goal is missiles "that can threaten everywhere in the world." If it had been aimed at a standard trajectory, the new ICBM would have a range of more than 8,100 miles, or "more than enough range to reach Washington, D.C.," which is 6,850 miles from Pyongyang, said David Wright at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
North Korea lauded the launch on state TV, claiming it can now "load the heaviest warhead and strike anywhere in the mainland United States." Experts disputed that North Korea could reach the U.S. with a warhead yet. "Perhaps they can hit Washington, D.C., with this, but they can't fight a war with it," said German missile expert Markus Schiller. But South Korea's unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, said Pyongyang may be ready with its nuclear program in as soon as a year. You can learn more about North Korea's third ICBM test in the Fox News report below. Peter Weber
Police in the oceanfront town of Yurihonjo, Japan, on Friday took into custody eight men believed to have arrived on Japanese shores from North Korea. "We understand that the eight individuals are reporting that they came from North Korea for fishing, but drifted there after their ship experienced [mechanical] troubles," said Hachiro Okonogi of Japan's National Public Safety Commission. If past precedent holds, the men will be returned to North Korea.
Then, on Saturday, the Japanese Coast Guard found a body on Sado island, which is on the same westerly side of Japan's main island, Honshu, as Yurihonjo. The man is likewise believed to be North Korean, as his body was found with cigarettes and other personal items with Korean writing. His cause of death is unknown, as is whether he was a would-be defector or simply another fisherman whose equipment failed. Parts of a wooden boat were located nearby. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump has reinstated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism in an effort to crack down on Kim Jong Un's nuclear program, The New York Times reports. Former President George W. Bush removed North Korea from the list in 2008 while attempting to negotiate a nuclear deal. The nation was first listed in 1988.
"Today the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism," Trump said in his announcement Monday. "Should have happened a long time ago, should have happened years ago. In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil."
Last year, South Korean officials claimed Kim had sent assassins abroad to kill or abduct defectors. North Korea has successfully killed defectors in the past, such as when the nephew of the former wife of the previous North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, was assassinated in South Korea in 1997. Additionally, two female assassins were accused of killing Kim's estranged older half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, in Malaysia earlier this year.
North Korea joins a list of state sponsors of terrorism that includes Sudan, Syria, and Iran. The announcement follows Trump's 12-day trip through Asia, including a stop in South Korea. Watch his declaration below. Jeva Lange
Trump says that North Korea should have been labeled a state sponsor of terror "a long time ago, should have happened years ago."
It did. North Korea was added in 1988. Removed in 2008 by George W. Bush. pic.twitter.com/SH9LJX1Yjx
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 20, 2017
Secretary of Defense James Mattis offered a grim assessment of U.S.-North Korean relations while speaking in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday in a visit in advance of President Trump's early November Asia tour.
Accusing the Kim Jong Un regime of "outlaw" behavior, Mattis said "North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programs," adding that he "cannot imagine a condition under which the United States would accept North Korea as a nuclear power."
Mattis emphasized his preference for diplomacy to resolve nuclear tensions, though critics argue absolute rejection of Pyongyang as a nuclear power make negotiations difficult to begin. Bonnie Kristian
Former President Jimmy Carter would be willing to travel to North Korea for negotiations to avoid nuclear catastrophe, he told The New York Times' Maureen Dowd in an article appearing in the paper's Sunday edition.
"I would go, yes," Carter said, explaining that he, like many, is "afraid, too, of a situation" sparked by the war of words between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "They want to save their regime. And we greatly overestimate China's influence on North Korea," he continued. "Particularly to Kim Jong Un. He's never, so far as I know, been to China, and they have no relationship."
Carter, 93, said he has offered his services to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, but the Trump administration has yet to accept. The ex-president previously negotiated in Pyongyang in 1994 and 2010, the first time paving the way for nuclear talks and the second time securing the release of an American prisoner. The North Korean regime enjoys the prestige of a visit from a former world leader. Bonnie Kristian
North Korea is expected to test another long-range ballistic missile on or before this coming Tuesday, U.S. analysts and a Russian lawmaker have predicted.
Monday is the anniversary of Pyongyang's original nuclear weapons test in 2006, and Tuesday commemorates the 1945 establishment of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. "North Koreans always have a good sense of timing," former CIA analyst Sue Mi Terry told VOA. "Kim Jong Un will show that he lives up to his 'Rocket Man' billing."
The Kim Jong Un regime "gave us mathematical calculations that they believe prove that their missile can hit the west coast of the United States," reported Anton Morozov, a Russian member of parliament on the lower house's international affairs committee, in comments published Friday. "As far as we understand, they intend to launch one more long-range missile in the near future," he added. "And in general, their mood is rather belligerent." Bonnie Kristian
On Sunday, President Trump publicly undercut Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is in Asia, by tweeting that he should stop "wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man," North Korea's Kim Jong Un, adding: "Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!" A few hours later, he tweeted: "Being nice to Rocket Man hasn't worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won't fail." Kim, 33, assumed power in 2011, so Trump was presumably including his father and grandfather as "Rocket Man."
There are several theories on Trump's motive for undercutting Tillerson and implying certain military action. Trump was "privately described by advisers as furious" at Tillerson for contradicting his public position on talks with Pyongyang, The New York Times reports, but Trump also "could be attempting his own version of Richard M. Nixon's 'madman' theory, casting himself as trigger-happy to bolster the bargaining power of his aides." Unfortunately, in this case, "a misreading of North Korea could result in an atmospheric nuclear test or an artillery barrage against Seoul," the Times notes, and "Kim likes to play madman as well."
Jonathan Swan at Axios recounts Trump's use of the "madman" theory, in a meeting where Trump told U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer not to tell Seoul his timeline for saving a free trade deal. "You don't tell them they've got 30 days," Trump reportedly said. "You tell them, 'This guy's so crazy he could pull out any minute.'"
There's also the related theory that Trump intended this "as a good-cop, bad-cop strategy, but the tweet is so over the top that it undercuts Tillerson," former CIA Korea analyst Sue Mi Terry tells the Times. Trump made a violent confrontation more likely when he ignored the advice from his national security aides and personalized the dispute with Kim, said The New Yorker's Evan Osnos. "By extending the taunts to his own secretary of state, Trump might imagine that he is playing the bad cop to Tillerson's good cop," but this "ham-fisted effort to make Pyongyang more pliable to Tillerson's entreaties" just gave Pyongyang reason to ignore Tillerson. "This is not a police procedural," Osnos adds. Peter Weber
President Trump again referred to Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man" in a tweet Saturday night, the third iteration of the president's favorite new insult in his war of words with the North Korean leader:
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
On Thursday and Friday, Kim and Trump labeled each other a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard" and "madman," respectively. Trump previously used "Rocket Man" during his United Nations speech Tuesday and at an Alabama campaign rally Friday.
The Saturday tweet came several hours after a group of U.S. bombers and fighter escorts flew well north of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, staying over international waters but making a clear show of force toward Pyongyang. The Pentagon characterized the flight as a demonstration "that the president has many military options to defeat any threat."