N Korea signals defiance of US with failed missile test
The day after US President Donald Trump warned of a “major, major conflict” and his aides called for “painful” punitive measures, North Korea test-fired a missile that failed to fly far but sent a firm message that it will not be cowed down.
The surface-to-surface missile that did not clear the North Korean shoreline came just hours after secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s call at the UN for an united front.
Hours after the failed test, the White House responded with a statement that the administration was aware of the “most recent North Korean missile test” and that “the President has been briefed”.
Trump followed that up with a tweet, his preferred social media platform: “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!”
This was the 75th missile test by North Korea under Kim Jong Un’s watch since 2011 and at least the eighth since Trump’s inauguration in January; the first came during Japanese premier Shinzo Abe’s visit as Trump’s guest at his Florida resort in February.
Trump, who told Reuters in an interview earlier that there was a chance the US “could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea”, has tried to persuade China to use its considerable influence to rein in its client state.
But, he has insisted, the US was willing to go it alone if China, which buys 85% of North Korean exports, seemed disinclined, and his tweet on Friday appeared to be an attempt to nudge, and goad, Beijing to do more.
The US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson on Saturday kicked off a joint drill with the South Korean navy.