U.S. officials condemn North Korea's missile launch over Japan

North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday, demonstrating its commitment to advancing its missile program despite international sanctions and other pressure to halt it.

The missile traveled hundreds of miles over Sea of Japan and Hokkaido, an island prefecture in northern Japan.

President Trump said the U.S. heard Pyongyang’s message "loud and clear."

"This regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior," Trump said Tuesday 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,” he said. “All options are on the table."

The Pentagon reported it detected and tracked the launch at 5:27 a.m. local time just outside Pyongyang, near Sunan Air Base, in North Korea, flying east over northern Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean about 500 nautical miles east of Japan. The launch was the first to cross over Japan since 2009.

Initial assessments by the U.S. military indicated it was an intermediate-range ballistic missile and that it did not pose a threat to North America nor to Guam, a U.S. territory.

“We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment and we will provide a public update if warranted," the Pentagon said in a statement. "Our commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, remains ironclad. We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation."

Four of South Korea's F-15 fighter jets conducted an exercise in which they dropped a total of eight bombs at a military field near their eastern coast.

The United Nations Security Council met to discuss further actions against North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called the launch “absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible.”

North Korea has fired 21 missiles during 14 tests since February, including three on Saturday, with many landing in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, a wide area of ocean separating the two countries.

Such launches have prompted alarm in Japan, especially when missiles landed in its economic zone for shipping and fishing. Tuesday’s launch reportedly prompted the government to issue a take-cover warning to residents.

The apparent test from North Korea comes amid continued war exercises by United States and South Korean forces. The drills are defensive, U.S. officials say, but they have angered the North and caused provocations in the past.

The UN Security Council has banned such tests by North Korea, but its efforts continue. Last month, North Korea successfully test launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles — weapons in theory capable of striking the U.S. mainland, including California.

Special correspondent Stiles reported from Seoul and Times staff writer Hennigan from Washington.

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UPDATES:

2:35 p.m.: August 29: This article was updated to include comments by U.S. officials.

4:10 p.m.: This article was updated with background on North Korea’s missile program.

3:10 p.m.: This article was updated with officials saying North Korea fired an unidentified projectile.

This article was originally published at 2:45 p.m., August 28.

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