Has North Korea tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile?
After North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s latest missile launch, President Donald Trump wondered, “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”
Trump wrote on Twitter late Monday, “Hard to believe that South Korea … and Japan will put up with this much longer.”
Trump also urged North Korea’s biggest ally, China, to “put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
South Korean officials said early Tuesday that North Korea had launched another ballistic missile toward Japan, part of a string of recent test-firings, as the North works to build a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the United States.
While North Korea claimed to have tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, this declaration conflicted with earlier South Korean and US assessments.
The US Defense Department said US Pacific Command detected and tracked the launch of a land-based, intermediate range ballistic missile from North Korea’s Panghyon Airfield. The missile was tracked for 37 minutes and landed in the Sea of Japan.
A test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, if confirmed, would be a major step in developing a nuclear-armed missile that could reach the United States.
Shortly before Trump’s tweets, the White House said he had been briefed on the South Korean report.
Leading up to the missile launch, the Trump administration expressed increasing frustration with China’s reluctance to put more pressure on North Korea. Last week, the US blacklisted a small Chinese bank over its business ties with North Korea.
According to the White House, Trump raised the North Korean missile program during a phone call Sunday with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Chinese state media reported that Xi warned Trump that “some negative factors” are hurting US-China relations.
The New York Times, citing anonymous administration officials, reported Monday that Trump communicated to Xi that the US was ready to act on its own against North Korea.
A senior US official told foreign policy experts last week that the US has made clear to China that Chinese banks and companies conducting business with Pyongyang will face sanctions if there is no movement on North Korea’s nuclear activities, a participant in the meeting told the Associated Press.