On Tuesday, the North Korean military test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range long enough to hit Hawaii or even the American East Coast. The missile was reportedly fired at 3 a.m. local time, and flew for fully 50 minutes, on a lofted trajectory that actually sent it 10 times higher than the orbit of NASA’s International Space Station; it came down 1,000 km from Japan’s West Coast, in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. South Korea immediately responded by launching its own precision strike missile in an exercise, signaling its willingness to fire back at North Korea should Kim Jung-un initiate hostilities. Over the past several weeks, both Russia and China had suggested that the North Korean regime had been brought under control; that obviously is untrue.

A spokesman for the Pentagon stated, “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.” Defense Secretary James Mattis stated that North Korea now had the capacity to attack any location on the planet.

President Trump responded this way:

The next step for North Korea might be to test fire a nuclear-tipped ICBM over the Pacific Ocean. Such steps could happen by next year, according to American intelligence.

Clearly, sanctions aren’t working; clearly, the Chinese government is having little or no impact on North Korean policy. The notion that North Korea will ever unilaterally disarm is nonsense — they are seeking to extract concessions from the West, as they have for the last two and a half decades. By the same token, the regime understands that to fire a nuclear weapon at the United States or one of her allies would be suicidal. So this largely amounts to posturing.

Still, we are living under the North Korean missile umbrella. Which means that the United States should rapidly ramp up her missile defense technology, and also increase the capacity for hair-trigger response to North Korean aggression.