With the Mar-a-Lago summit between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping only a day away, North Korea decided that now would be the perfect time to carry out yet another ballistic missile test.
Pyongyang’s missile program is expected to be one of the top topics conservation and contention between the two leaders at their talks in Florida on Thursday and Friday. In an interview with the Financial Times published on Sunday, Trump set the stage by declaring that China has “great influence” over Pyongyang, but if Beijing was not going to help, then the United States would deal with the issue on its own.
“Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you,” Trump said.
A senior White House official echoed these hard-line remarks at a press briefing on Tuesday night, saying that “The clock has now run out, and all options are on the table.”
Earlier this week, a senior North Korean defector told NBC News that dictator Kim Jong Un was “desperate” to maintain his rule and was prepared to use nuclear weapons against the US and its allies, warning that the “world should be ready.”
The single ballistic missile was launched early this morning, flying for about 9 minutes before crashing into the Sea of Japan. The US military said that it appeared to be a KN-15 medium range ballistic missile that posed no threat to North Korea.
Afterward, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued this terse and confusing response: “North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”
Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned that the US and China were like two trains accelerating headlong on a collision course, condemning North Korea for its missile launches, but also placing blame on the US for raising tensions with troop activities.
Beijing has been working diligently at getting all sides back to the negotiating talbe, but have had their efforts undermined by continued missile tests from Pyongyang. In February, Beijing responded to North Korea missile tests by banning coal imports from the country for the rest of the year, cutting off a significant portion of the hermit kingdom’s foreign income. In response, Pyongyang fired back, accusing its only ally of “dancing to the tune of the US.”
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