Will North Korea make missiles over Japan the new normal?

The language from North Korea on Wednesday is as familiar as it is chilling, a declaration to the world to expect more missile tests. But there are important clues about North Korea’s ambitious push to send its missiles farther into the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to make them an accepted part of life in the region, as leader Kim Jong Un expands the weapons program he sees as his country’s best chance of survival against encircling enemies.

By firing a missile over Japan and putting the Asia-Pacific, including Guam and its major U.S. military base, on notice for more tests, North Korea may have won itself greater military space in a region dominated by enemies. It’s still too early to see if Kim can create new rules without crossing a line that the United States won’t tolerate.

Here’s a look at the possible meaning of Kim’s comments carried by state media after North Korea sent a missile potentially capable of carrying a nuclear bomb over Japan on Tuesday:

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WHAT NORTH KOREA SAID

Because North Korea’s “current ballistic rocket launching drill … is the first step of the military operation … in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam, (which is an) advanced base of invasion, he (Kim) said that it is necessary to positively push forward the work for putting the strategic force on a modern basis by conducting more ballistic rocket launching drills with the Pacific as a target in the future.”

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