WASHINGTON — The Biden administration responded on multiple levels Tuesday to North Korea’s latest long-range ballistic missile launch, reaching out to allies within the region on diplomatic and military fronts, and on the leader level by U.S. President Joe Biden.
The missile was fired late Monday, flying over Japan early on Tuesday morning before landing within the Pacific Ocean.
This latest North Korean missile test — the twenty third one to date this yr — was different since it marked the primary time in five years that a North Korean missile had been fired directly over Japan. Residents in northern prefectures awoke to sirens and directions to take cover.
On Tuesday morning, Biden spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to strengthen America’s “ironclad commitment to Japan’s defense,” and recognize the launch “as a danger to the Japanese people,” the White House said in a readout of the decision.
The presidential call followed Monday night conversations held by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken with their Japanese and South Korean counterparts, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a briefing Tuesday.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also spoke by phone together with his counterparts in Tokyo and Seoul, in keeping with Pentagon readouts of the decision.
A unifying thread running through all of the official readouts of phone calls was the word “ironclad,” which is how each of those U.S. officials described America’s commitment to the defense of Japan and South Korea.
This commitment and its military alliances were audible and visual Tuesday within the skies above northeastern Asia.
In airspace over the Yellow Sea off the Korean peninsula, the U.S. and South Korea conducted joint aerial flight and precision targeting exercises on Tuesday in response to the missile launch. The training exercise included firing at a goal on an uninhabited island.
An identical joint exercise was held for U.S. Marine Corps fighters and Japan air self-defense fighters, Jean-Pierre said on the White House.
While the exercises Tuesday were held specifically in response to the newest missile launch, additionally they served to strengthen trilateral coordination within the face of a threat that keeps growing, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.
“Each time [North Koreans] do one in every of these launches, some are successful. Some will not be. Some are only partially successful. But every time they do that, they learn. They recover. They get more capable,” Kirby said on Fox News Tuesday.
“That is what makes us need to stay vigilant, and make sure that that we have got the capabilities ourselves within the region to defend our national interest and people of our allies,” he said.