North Korea continues to push the boundaries the U.S. and the world are trying to set, and now the U.S. is ramping up missile defense efforts as the threat of aggression becomes more real.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency announced that it successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii in a test. A previous test from the same warship, the USS John Paul Jones, failed in June.
About the test
This test was planned long in advance of North Korea's recent actions, according to CNN. Still, the results carry particular significance in light of recent events.
The Standard Missile-6, which was built by Raytheon, intercepted the medium-range missile in its final seconds of flight after it was fired from the USS John Paul Jones.
"We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase," MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in the statement. "We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves."
Why it matters
North Korea just fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan earlier in the week, and has warned that the launch is only the beginning of further Pacific operations.
If the escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea continue, this missile defense system could quickly become crucial, particularly for South Korea, Japan and Guam, all of which have been subject to North Korean threats.
The Administration's response
President Donald Trump appears to be growing increasingly frustrated with North Korea, and Wednesday he openly wondered why the United States should keep the door open on diplomatic talks with the rogue communist nation.
"The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "Talking is not the answer!"
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is still open to talks with North Korea, and met with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo on Wednesday.
"No, we're never out of diplomatic solutions," Mattis said. "We continue to work together, and the minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations and our interests, which is what we are here to discuss today."