President Donald Trump on Thursday called North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test ‘very, very bad behavior’ and said that there would be ‘consequences’ for Pyongyang’s belligerence.
Tuesday’s launch marked a milestone in Pyongyang’s decades-long drive to threaten the US mainland with a nuclear strike, posing a tough policy challenge for Trump, who is has clashed with Beijing over how to handle Kim Jong-Un’s regime.
‘I call on all nations to confront this global threat and publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences for their very, very bad behavior,’ Trump said.
‘I have pretty severe things that we’re thinking about,’ he said, but added: ‘That doesn’t mean that we’ll do them.’
Trump made his comments during a joint press conference in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
The whirlwind visit to Warsaw comes just days before he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin. He will next travel to Germany for Friday and Saturday’s G20 summit.
Trump has repeatedly urged Pyongyang’s chief backer China to rein in the Stalinist state in, taking to Twitter this week to publicly berate Beijing for not squeezing the North hard enough on trade.
China responded Thursday with a call for more moderate language from all sides.
‘We also call on relevant parties to stay calm, exercise restraint, refrain from words and deeds that may heighten tensions,’ foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters.
President Xi Jinping, who be attending this week’s G20 summit with Trump in Hamburg, said China was committed to denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, but stressed this could best be achieved through dialogue and negotiations, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Trump previously dismissed the idea of the North having a working ICBM, vowing it ‘won’t happen,’ but experts say the new missile could reach Alaska or even further towards the continental US.
The test prompted the US and its ally South Korea to stage a joint missile drill aimed at countering the North’s threats, after South Korean President Moon Jae-In called for a response beyond ‘just words’.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang on Thursday warned that it would be a ‘piece of cake’ to destroy South Korea, its state media reported.
The comments came as the state raged against Seoul for a joint missile drill with the US following its landmark intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.
The North’s propaganda National Peace Committee for Korea criticised South Korean President Moon Jae-in for denouncing Pyongyang ‘instead of getting rejoiced over the praiseworthy event’ staged by its northern neighbour, according to the KCNA news agency.
Mocking the South as ‘puppet military gangsters,’ the KCNA report added: ‘It will be as easy as a piece of cake for the (North) to wipe out the puppet forces … as we are now able to destroy even the US mainland across the ocean.’
Left-leaning Moon, who has advocated dialogue with the North to bring it to negotiating table, condemned the launch and joined calls for tighter sanctions on Pyongyang.
The latest test drew also widespread condemnation and prompted the US to push for new, tougher sanctions against Pyongyang at an UN Security Council meeting held on Wednesday.
In a hard-hitting address to the UN Security Council, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday’s ICBM test had made ‘the world a more dangerous place,’ and that Washington was ready to use force if need be to deal with the threat of a nuclear-armed Pyongyang.
The North’s leader Kim Jong-Un described the ICBM launch – staged on the US Independence Day holiday – as a gift to ‘American b******’ and vowed to give more ‘gift packages’ to the US in the future.
The impoverished North is already under onerous international sanctions imposed over its past nuclear and missile tests held in violation of UN resolutions, which ban it from using any ballistic or nuclear technologies.
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