[1/3/17] A pledge by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to advance efforts this year to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile received a blunt Twitter slap down Monday from President-elect Donald Trump: “It won’t happen!”
“North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S.,” Trump tweeted. “It won’t happen!”
In a subsequent post, the president-elect criticized China – North Korea’s closest ally and biggest trading partner – for not doing enough to rein in its unstable neighbor.
“China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won’t help with North Korea,” he said. “Nice!”
(In an op-ed Monday Sen. Cory Gardner, the Colorado Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, urged Trump to impose “secondary sanctions” on companies – many of them Chinese – “that help Pyongyang engage in illicit behavior.”)
In a televised new year speech, Kim said that preparations for test-firing an ICBM had “entered the final stage.”
The statement is noteworthy because although the regime has already tested ballistic missile-applicable technology, up to now it has always done so under the cover of placing satellites into orbit – as it did in December 2012 and again last February.
Launching a satellite into orbit recognizably tests – and usually advances – long-range missile knowhow.
U.S. experts said the satellite accomplishments amounted to a successful demonstration of Pyongyang’s ICBM capability; the Pentagon has long warned that the regime is seeking a capability of bringing the U.S. mainland within reach of a nuclear-tipped ICBM.
Pyongyang has also carried out five nuclear tests – three of them since Kim Jong-un succeeded his late father, and most recently last September.
In his speech Kim, dressed in a Western-style suit, said the regime had “achieved the status of a nuclear power, a military giant in the East which no enemy, however formidable, would dare to provoke.”