President Donald Trump has warned he will be ready to take action when North Korea successfully develops missiles after its latest test failed again. Asked about the failure of the recent missile tests, he said: “Perhaps they’re just not very good missiles. But eventually, he’ll have good missiles.”
Refusing to elaborate on US military options because “we shouldn’t be announcing all our moves”, Mr Trump added: “It is a chess game. I just don’t want people to know what my thinking is.” He called the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “a pretty smart cookie” for being able to hold onto power after taking over the reclusive Asian nation at a young age.
“People are saying, ‘Is he sane?’ I have no idea,” Mr Trump told CBS’ Face the Nation television show on Sunday. He was reacting after a North Korean mid-range ballistic missile apparently failed, the third flop in a month. The president’s national security adviser, Army Lt Gen H R McMaster, said North Korea’s most recent missile test represents “open defiance of the international community”.
North Korea poses “a grave threat” not just to the United States and its Asian allies, but also to China, he said. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Mr McMaster said it was important “for all of us to confront this regime, this regime that is pursuing the weaponisation of a missile with a nuclear weapon. This is something that we know we cannot tolerate”.
He said Mr Trump had “made clear that he is going to resolve this issue one way or the other, and what we prefer to do is to work with others, China included, to resolve this situation short of military action”.
That means, he said, working with partners in the region and globally on enforcing current UN sanctions and perhaps “ratcheting up those sanctions even further. And it also means being prepared for military operations if necessary”.
Mr McMaster said North Korea “is a place where US and Chinese interests overlap”. On Friday, the UN Security Council held a ministerial meeting on Pyongyang’s escalating weapons programme. North Korean officials boycotted the meeting, which was chaired by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
North Korean ballistic missile tests are banned by the United Nations because they are seen as part of the North’s push for a nuclear-tipped missile that can hit the US mainland. Earlier on Sunday Pope Francis warned that “a good part of humanity” will be destroyed if tensions with North Korea escalate, and he called for diplomacy and a revived United Nations to take the lead in negotiating a resolution.
Francis was asked as he travelled back to Rome from Egypt about North Korean ballistic missile tests and US warnings of “catastrophic” consequences if the world fails to stop them. He was asked specifically what he would tell Mr Trump, who has sent a US carrier to conduct drills near the Koreas, and other leaders to try to diffuse the tensions.
Francis said he would urge them to use diplomacy and negotiation “because it’s the future of humanity”.
“Today, a wider war will destroy not a small part of humanity, but a good part of humanity and culture. Everything. Everything, no? It would be terrible. I don’t think humanity today could bear it,” he told reporters.
Francis said the UN should regain its leadership in conflict resolution, saying it had been “watered down” over time. He recalled he has frequently lamented the “world war in pieces” that is raging in countries around the world. Now, he says, those pieces are getting bigger and more concentrated.
“This thing about North Korea missiles, it has been a long time that they’ve been doing this. Now it seems it has gotten too hot,” he told reporters on the papal plane. “I always call for problems to be resolved via the diplomatic path, via negotiations.”