President Donald Trump has said that he believes China’s president has been putting pressure on North Korea as it pursues its missile and nuclear weapons programmes – but when asked about whether another nuclear test would mean a military response from the US, Mr Trump said “I don’t know…we’ll see”.
In an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation,” – to be aired on Sunday – Mr Trump said he won’t be happy if North Korea conducts a nuclear test and that he believes Chinese President Xi Jinping won’t be happy, either.
Asked if that means military action, Mr Trump responded: “I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see.”
On Saturday, a North Korean mid-range ballistic missile apparently failed shortly after launch, the third test-fire flop this month but a clear message of defiance. North Korean ballistic missile tests are banned by the United Nations because they’re seen as part of the North’s push for a nuclear-tipped missile that can hit potentially the US mainland.
The launch comes at a point of particularly high tension in the region. Mr Trump has sent a nuclear-powered submarine and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to Korean waters and North Korea last week conducted large-scale, live-fire exercises on its eastern coast. The U.S. and South Korea also started installing a missile defense system that is supposed to be partially operational within days and their two navies are staging joint military drills.
Residents in the village of Seongj, where the missile defense system is being installed, scuffled with police on Sunday. About 300 protesters faced off against 800 police and succeeded in blocking two U.S. Army oil trucks from entering the site, local media reported. A few residents were injured or fainted from the scuffle and were transported to a hospital.
The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, remains a controversial topic in South Korea and presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in even has vowed to reconsider the deployment if he wins the May 9 election. He has said that the security benefits of THAAD would be offset by worsened relations with China, which is the country’s biggest trading partner and is opposed to its deployment.
Trump raised eyebrows in South Korea last week when he said would make Seoul pay $1 billion for the missile defense system. Seoul’s presidential Blue House said Sunday that White House National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster confirmed that the U.S. will not be seeking money for the system.
North Korea didn’t immediately comment on its latest missile launch, though its state media on Saturday reiterated the country’s goal of being able to strike the continental U.S.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry denounced the launch as an “obvious” violation of United Nations resolutions and the latest display of North Korea’s “belligerence and recklessness.”
“We sternly warn that the North Korean government will continue to face a variety of strong punitive measures issued by the U.N. Security Council and others…