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Tillerson on Missile Launch: U.S. 'Has Spoken Enough About North Korea'

A fireworks display during 2013 New Year's celebrations in Melbourne. (Rex Features via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s reaction to North Korea’s latest missile launch tonight was short and sweet: he’s over talking about it.

“North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the East Sea from a site in the vicinity of Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, at around 6:42 a.m.,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced.

According to Yonhap news agency, the missile appeared to be a land-based, medium-range Pukguksong-2.

In a statement released by the State Department, Tillerson said, “North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”

The launch comes two days before President Trump hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. A senior administration official told reporters Tuesday that Trump has “been pretty clear in messaging how important it is for China to coordinate with the United States and for China to begin exerting its considerable economic leverage to bring about a peaceful resolution to that problem.”

“So, certainly, it is going to come up in their discussions,” the official added. “You know, somewhere on the order of just shy of 90 percent of North Korea’s external trade is with China. So, even though we hear sometimes that China’s political influence may have diminished with North Korea, clearly its economic leverage has not. It is considerable. And so that will be one of the points of discussion.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement tonight that Trump “must tell President Xi this week that the policy of ‘strategic patience’ is now over and China must choose to either do its part to stop Kim Jong Un, or face the consequences.”

“The United States must respond to this belligerent behavior by sanctioning all entities that are aiding North Korea’s illicit activities, including imposing secondary sanctions on any Chinese entities involved,” said Gardner, who has pushed for tougher sanctions enforcement and last week along with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin demanding as much.