KRT via AP Video

With America rightly focused on the epic catastrophe in Texas, North Korea brazenly violated the sovereignty of Japan by firing a midrange ballistic missile, designed to carry a nuclear payload, over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.

  • Investors were rattled; global stocks fell this morning.
  • White House statement this morning: "Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table."
  • AP says the launch was "likely the longest ever from the North — over the territory of a close U.S. ally [and sending] a clear message of defiance."
  • The N.Y. Times calls it "a direct challenge to Mr. Trump."
  • CFR President Richard Haass, author of the sadly apt "A World in Disarray," tweeted that the launch "will stimulate missile defense buildup as well as intensify consideration of preventive military action."

How to think about it ... Two experts email me:

  • Richard Haass I: "The fact that NK took the provocative step of launching a missile over Japan raises the possibility that it cannot be assumed to act responsibly vis-a-vis anyone, including ourselves. Such an assumption is essential if we are to place our faith in deterrence. If we cannot make such an assumption, and if arms control fails to deliver, then a preventive strike becomes a serious option, notwithstanding its high risks and potential costs."
  • Richard Haass II: "The fact that NK keeps testing with no let-up [shows] there is little to no chance it will give up its nuclear weapons and missiles; the only question to me is whether it might agree to some sort of cap or ceiling."
  • Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group (in his signature style): "china knows that trump has been pushing for tariffs/trade war despite their recent improvements in cooperation on north korea ... so it's hard to see beijing taking a much harder line here."
  • Ian Bremmer II: "few believe the us has a credible military option vs north korea. but us relations with china are set to deteriorate significantly. and a blow up with north korea will help bring that about."

Go deeper:

  • "The Deterrence War" — AP's Eric Talmadge: "Conventional knowledge says that if North Korea were ever to use its nuclear weapons, it would be an act of suicide. But brace yourself for what deterrence experts call the 'theory of victory.' To many who have studied how nuclear strategies actually work, it's conceivable Pyongyang could launch its nukes and still survive. Its most recent missile test suggests again it's racing to prepare itself to do just that — but only if forced into a corner."
  • Ned Price, a National Security Council spokesman in the Obama administration, argues for Foreign Policy ("Trump's Nuclear Crisis Was Of His Own Making") that Trump's "fire and fury" threat provoked "an entirely manufactured crisis magnified by an irrational response from an American president eager to display bravado and bluster on the world stage."
  • Catch up quick with Axios' Shannon Vavra.
Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. officials: Iran and Russia aim to interfere in election

Iran and Russia have obtained voter registration information that can be used to undermine confidence in the U.S. election system, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced at a press conference Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: The revelation comes roughly two weeks before Election Day. Ratcliffe said Iran has sent threatening emails to Democratic voters this week in states across the U.S. and spread videos claiming that people can vote more than once.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: New York reports most COVID cases since MayStudies show drop in coronavirus death rate — The next wave is gaining steam.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.
  5. World: Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million cases.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting measure

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening blocked a lower court order that would have allowed voters to cast ballots curbside at Alabama polling places on Election Day.

Whit it matters: With less than two weeks until Election Day, the justices voted 5-3 to reinstate the curbside voting ban and overturn a lower court judge's ruling designed to protect people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.