Trump warns North Korea's missiles will get better

2017-04-30 22:30
South Korean protesters stage a rally to oppose a plan to deploy the advanced US missile defence system called THAAD near the US embassy in Seoul. (Ahn Young-joon, AP)

South Korean protesters stage a rally to oppose a plan to deploy the advanced US missile defence system called THAAD near the US embassy in Seoul. (Ahn Young-joon, AP)

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Seoul - President Donald Trump said after North Korea's latest failed rocket launch that communist leader Kim Jong-Un will eventually develop better missiles, and "we can't allow it to happen".

In a taped television interview, the president would not discuss the possibility of military action, saying: "It is a chess game. I just don't want people to know what my thinking is".

Separately, Trump's national security adviser, Army Lt Gen HR McMaster, said North Korea's most recent missile test represents "open defiance of the international community." He said North Korea poses "a grave threat," not just to the US and its Asian allies, but also to China.

Good missiles

Speaking on television, McMaster said it is important "for all of us to confront this regime who want to use a missile as a nuclear weapon.

"This is something that we know we cannot tolerate," McMaster said.

A North Korean mid-range ballistic missile on Saturday broke up a few minutes after launch, the third test-fire flop this month.

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 weapon that can hit the US mainland.

President Trump was asked about why the North's rockets keep blowing up.

"I'd rather not discuss it," he said. "But perhaps they're just not very good missiles. But eventually, he'll have good missiles".

He added: "And if that happens, we can't allow it to happen".

Trump also called North Korea's leader "a pretty smart cookie" for being able to hold onto power after taking over at a young age. "People are saying, 'Is he sane?' I have no idea," the president said.

Nuclear weapons

McMaster said that as far as North Korea's nuclear ambitions are concerned, Trump "has made clear that he is going to resolve this issue one way or the other," but the president's preference is to work with China and others to resolve it without military action.

That means, McMaster said, working to enforce current UN sanctions and perhaps ratcheting them up. "And it also means being prepared for military operations if necessary", he said.

Trump said he believes China's president, Xi Jinping, has been putting pressure on North Korea over its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

The launch comes at a point of particularly high tension in the region. Trump has sent a nuclear-powered submarine and an aircraft carrier to Korean waters.

The US and South Korea also started installing a missile defence system THAAD that is supposed to be partially operational within days.

Trump raised eyebrows in South Korea last week when he said would make Seoul pay $1bn for the missile defence system. McMaster said on Sunday that the matter is subject to negotiation.

Read more on:    kim jong-un  |  donald trump  |  china  |  north korea  |  us

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