North Korea’s test launch on Sunday flew higher and longer than previous tests, leading some experts to believe it could be the country’s most advanced launch to date. Fired from a "lofted" trajectory, the projectile peaked at 1,200 miles, soaring over satellites in low Earth orbit.
The intermediate-range ballistic missile launched from the city of Kusong.
According to the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the test was aimed at determining the missile’s capability of carrying a "large-scale heavy nuclear warhead,” though this has not been confirmed.
While meeting with Japanese leaders at a Tokyo think tank Harris said, "Combining nuclear warheads with ballistic technology in the hands of a volatile leader like Kim Jong-un is a recipe for a disaster," adding, "Kim Jong-un is not afraid to fail in public and every test he makes is a success because it takes North Korea one step closer to being able to deliver a nuclear-equipped missile anywhere in the world."
Harris said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is "closer to being able to deliver a nuclear-equipped missile anywhere in the world" and said that the US, South Korea and Japan should circle the wagons against threats from Pyongyang.
The three countries are currently engaged in trilateral military exercises near the Korean peninsula, a move that Pyongyang views as preparation for invading the North and removing its top leadership.
In an indirect criticism of China making freedom of navigation difficult in the South China Sea, Harris the commander remarked, "we should fly, be able to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows."
Harris also met Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while in Tokyo.
Though US President Donald Trump has expressed a willingness to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un under unspecified circumstances, after the test US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that such behavior "is not the way to sit down" with Trump.
While speaking at the UN Haley accused Kim of being in a "state of paranoia" and warned that Washington would continue to "tighten the screws" on the isolated nation.
After the test the White House press secretary’s office released a statement saying that "North Korea has been a flagrant menace for far too long."