North Korea: Donald Trump sends warning after Pyongyang fires ballistic missile over Japan

North Korea: Donald Trump sends warning after Pyongyang fires ballistic missile over Japan

North Korea: Donald Trump sends warning after Pyongyang fires ballistic missile over Japan

Updated 30 August 2017, 12:55 AEST

Donald Trump warns that "all options are on the table" for the United States to respond to North Korea's firing of a ballistic missile over northern Japan in a new show of force.

United States President Donald Trump has warned that "all options are on the table" for the United States to respond to North Korea's firing of a ballistic missile over northern Japan in a new show of force.

Key points:

  • Mr Trump says North Korea's actions "show contempt for its neighbours"
  • The UN Security Council will discuss North Korea at a meeting today
  • Japanese PM says the latest action posed "an unprecedented" threat to Japan
  • Malcolm Turnbull says "China has to ratchet up the pressure"

Mr Trump, who has vowed not to let North Korea develop nuclear missiles that can hit the US mainland, said the world had received Pyongyang's latest message "loud and clear".

"Threatening and destabilising actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world," Mr Trump said in a statement.

"All options are on the table."

Mr Trump said North Korea's actions show "contempt for its neighbours".

The North's official KCNA news agency said leader Kim Jong-un guided the launch of a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile on Tuesday in a drill to counter the joint military exercises by South Korean and US forces.

"The current ballistic rocket launching drill like a real war is the first step of the military operation of the KPA [Korean People's Army] in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam," KCNA quoted Mr Kim as saying.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the launch was "absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible" and that the Security Council now needed to take serious action.

Saying "enough is enough", Ms Haley said she hoped China and Russia would continue to work with the rest of the Security Council when it meets on Tuesday afternoon (local time) to discuss what more can be done about North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

The comments from Washington came just hours after North Korea accused the US of driving the Korean peninsula towards "an extreme level of explosion" and declared that it was justified in responding with "tough counter-measures".

Han Tae-song, North Korea's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, did not explicitly refer to his country's latest test firing of a ballistic missile that flew over Japan into the sea early on Tuesday.

"Now that the US has openly declared its hostile intention towards the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, by waging aggressive joint military exercises despite repeated warnings … my country has every reason to respond with tough counter-measures as an exercise of its right to self defence," Mr Han told the UN Conference on Disarmament.

"The US should be wholly responsible for the catastrophic consequences it will entail."

Mr Trump earlier this month warned North Korea "will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continues to threaten the US.

'Unprecedented, serious threat': PM Shinzo Abe

China, Pyongyang's main ally, has again urged restraint from all sides after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan that landed in the Pacific, prompting warnings to residents to take cover and drawing a sharp reaction from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The test, one of the most provocative ever from the reclusive state, came as United States and South Korean forces conduct annual military exercises on the peninsula, to which North Korea strenuously objects.

China's Foreign Ministry said it opposed North Korea going against UN resolutions to launch missiles, but added that sanctions and pressure could not solve the issue, calling for the US and North Korea to open talks.

Mr Abe slammed North Korea's actions, saying it was "an unprecedented, serious and a grave threat to our nation".

He said he spoke to US President Donald Trump for 40 minutes by phone and they agreed to increase pressure on North Korea.

Mr Trump also said the United States was "100 per cent with Japan", Mr Abe said.

Just over two dozen ADF members were scheduled to take part in the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian war games that run until Thursday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, needed to do more.

"China has to ratchet up the pressure," he told FIVEaa radio.

"They have condemned these missiles tests like everyone else, but with unique leverage comes unique responsibility."

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Mr Kim was not irrational and the world should not assume the rogue nation is completely unpredictable.

"I believe he knows exactly what he's doing," she told 7.30.

"We have seen this pattern of behaviour from North Korea before, that is, provocative acts risky behaviour and then they get the world's attention and then they're back at the negotiating table."

Brad Glosserman, the head of the Pacific Forum at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said the latest action from North Korea was particularly concerning for the region.

"North Korea has a record of either having its missiles break up or having them go places they don't necessarily intend them to land," Mr Glosserman told PM.

"As a result, very much the risk is that something untoward could have happened accidentally.

"Something could have fallen on Japan, there could have been a fatality and accidentally it would have been an escalation."

North Korea defiant over launch

North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under young leader, the most recent over the weekend, but firing projectiles over mainland Japan is rare.

South Korea's military said the missile was launched from near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, just before 6:00am (local time) and flew 2,700 kilometres, reaching an altitude of about 550km.

Four South Korean fighter jets bombed a military firing range on Tuesday after President Moon Jae-in asked the military to demonstrate capabilities to counter North Korea.

South Korea and the United States had discussed deploying additional "strategic assets" on the Korean Peninsula, the Presidential Blue House said in a statement, without giving more details.

North Korea remained defiant.

"The US should know that it can neither browbeat the DPRK with any economic sanctions and military threats and blackmail, nor make the DPRK flinch from the road chosen by itself," North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun said, using the initials of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

'There's nowhere to run'

Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to fire four missiles into the sea near the US Pacific territory of Guam after Mr Trump said it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States.

"Alas, Pyongyang has demonstrated that its threats to the US base on Guam are not a bluff," Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of Russia's upper house of parliament's international affairs committee, said on social media.

North Korea fired what it said was a rocket carrying a communications satellite into orbit over Japan in 2009 after warning of its plan.

The US, Japan and South Korea considered it a ballistic missile test.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the latest missile fell into the sea 1,180km east of Cape Erimo on Hokkaido.

Television and radio broadcasters broke into their regular programming with a "J-Alert" warning citizens of the missile launch.

Bullet train services were temporarily halted and warnings went out over loudspeakers in towns in Hokkaido.

"I was woken by the missile alert on my cellphone," said Ayaka Nishijima, 41, an office worker on Honshu island.

"I didn't feel prepared at all. Even if we get these alerts there's nowhere to run.

"It's not like we have a basement or bomb shelter, all we can do is get away from the window."

ABC/Reuters