A day after North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic
missile (ICBM) test, President Trump condemned its leader as a
“sick puppy,” and his administration demanded all countries,
including China, sever economic and diplomatic ties with the
secretive regime in Pyongyang.
“Little Rocket Man … he is a sick puppy,” Trump said on
Wednesday in the middle of a speech focused on the
Republican tax-cut plan in Congress. The president had just
described the GOP proposal as energizing the U.S. economy with
“rocket fuel,” which apparently made him think of his Elton
John-inspired moniker for Kim.
At an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting called in
response to Tuesday’s missile test, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley
warned that North Korea’s actions had brought the world “closer
“And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime
will be utterly destroyed,” said Haley, who pressed all nations
to “cut off all ties with North Korea” in addition to
implementing existing sanctions on the regime.
“All countries should sever diplomatic relations with North
Korea and limit military, scientific, technical or commercial
cooperation,” Haley told the council. “They must also cut off
trade with the regime by stopping all imports and exports, and
expel all North Korean workers.”
She also said that Trump had pressed Chinese President Xi
Jinping during a telephone call earlier in the day to cut off
oil supplies to North Korea.
“China can do this on its own, or we can take the oil situation
into our own hands,” she said, without elaborating.
The Trump administration has notched several recent successes
in its campaign to further isolate North Korea over its nuclear
weapons and ballistic missile programs, notably a pair of 15-0
U.N. Security Council votes to tighten sanctions. Countries
like Singapore and Sudan have promised to cut some economic
ties. Even China, North Korea’s de facto patron and its largest
export market, has reportedly curbed trade with the secretive
President Trump speaks in St. Louis. (Photo: Kevin
Washington has been studying what new sanctions it could
impose, either unilaterally or cooperatively through a forum
like the United Nations. At the same time, senior U.S.
officials have refused to rule out using force.
It’s unclear what value, if any, Trump’s repeated insults have
to his administration’s efforts to roll back North Korea’s
ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. Kim’s regime in
Pyongyang has repeatedly insulted him as well. A senior
official on Wednesday called Trump an “old lunatic” and
declared that the United States “should bear in mind that no
force on Earth can check the advance of the DPRK,” as that
country is known, according to the state-run news agency KCNA.
The schoolyard taunts came a day after North Korea defied
escalating international pressure and tested an ICBM that,
according to independent experts, could conceivably have
reached Washington D.C. In response, Trump promised that the
United States “will handle” Pyongyang and vowed to continue his
efforts to isolate North Korea diplomatically and increase
economic pressure on Kim’s regime.
Defense Secretary James Mattis, sitting near the president,
said that the ICBM fired Tuesday “went higher, frankly, than
any previous shot they’ve taken” and told reporters that the
launch showed that North Korea was determined to build missiles
“that could threaten everywhere in the world, basically.”
It was unclear what prompted North Korea’s launch, which came a
week after Trump announced that his administration was putting
the regime in Pyongyang back on its list of state sponsors of
terrorism. At the time, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had
noted the 60-day span since Kim had carried out a provocative
act, adding: “We’re hopeful that he continues this quiet
period. That’s our objective, is that he continue to be quiet.”
A news broadcast screened at Pyongyang Station shows Kim
Jong Un’s signed order to test-fire the newly developed
intercontinental ballistic missile. (Photo: Jon Chol
Top Trump aides have been saying since he took office in
January that time is running out to find a diplomatic
solution, suggesting that the White House believes that North
Korea — unlike the Soviet Union or China — cannot be deterred
and must instead be disarmed.
In July, North Korea fired two ICBMs potentially capable of
reaching U.S. soil. In early August, news outlets reported
that American intelligence confirmed a finding by Japan’s
defense ministry that North Korea had likely developed
warheads small enough to fit on its missiles.
But there are still many questions about Pyongyang’s
capabilities — how reliable are its guidance systems? Has it
devised reentry systems to ensure that its warheads would not
burn up in the atmosphere?
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