North Korea’s test on Tuesday marked the first time that a missile from the North had flown over another country. Its leader, Kim Jong-un, said on Wednesday that the test could be a “curtain raiser” for more such tests in the Pacific. The missile test rattled a region increasingly concerned about North Korea’s fast-advancing missile capabilities and its increasingly bold way of demonstrating them.
Mr. Kim said that he would watch the United States’ actions before deciding whether to conduct more missile tests, including in waters around Guam, an American territory that is home to Andersen Air Force Base, from which the B-1B Lancer bombers participating in the drills on Thursday took off. The F-35 jets flew from an American base in Iwakuni, Japan.
Hours after Mr. Kim’s warning, the United States conducted what it called a previously planned missile-defense test, intercepting a medium-range ballistic missile fired from a Navy guided-missile destroyer off the coast of Hawaii.
Also on Wednesday, President Trump declared “talking is not the answer” to resolving the prolonged standoff over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. But hours later, when asked by reporters if the United States was out of diplomatic solutions with North Korea, the United States secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, replied: “No.”
The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the 11-day joint military exercises the United States and South Korea completed on Thursday, involved tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops, although the exercises were conducted largely through computer simulations.
Whenever such joint exercises take place, North Korea accuses the South and the United States of preparing for an invasion and often conducts its own military exercises and missile tests.