North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Saturday, which like their last missile test exploded minutes after it lifted off, as the US threatened a swift response to the hermit country ratcheting up tensions once again.
“North Korea fired an unidentified missile from a site in the vicinity of Bukchang in Pyeongannam-do (South Pyeongan Province) in the northeastern direction at around 5:30 a.m today,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. “It is estimated to have failed.”
Speculation was raised during North Korea’s previous missile test several weeks ago that US cyber-warfare operations may have intervened by hacking the launch systems during the test, as some foreign officials have suggested.
President Donald Trump responded on twitter, noting that “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China”, which was to deescalate the already tense situation by not launching any further missile tests.
North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 28, 2017
Also on Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, warned that failure to curb North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs could lead to “catastrophic consequences”. He called for a greater enforcement of UN sanctions against North Korea and requested the help of the rest of the world in pressuring North Korea to step back from its military threats. China said it was not only up to Beijing to solve the North Korean problem. “The key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side,” Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister said.
Trump also warned of a “major, major conflict” on the horizon with North Korea if they fail to curb their ballistic missile tests and provocative
U.S. President Donald Trump said a “major, major conflict” with North Korea was possible over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, while China said the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control.
Trump, speaking to Reuters on Thursday, said he wanted to resolve the crisis peacefully, possibly through the use of new economic sanctions, although a military option was not off the table.
“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea,” Trump said in an interview at the Oval Office.
“We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult,” he said, describing North Korea as his biggest global challenge.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said there was a danger that the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control, his ministry said.
As North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un seems unwilling to bend to his country’s only ally, China, who has already denied valuable shipments of coal at their harbors that North Korea heavily relies on for income, Trump’s Navy carrier group has arrived in the area.
Although saber rattling is certainly nothing new for North Korea, they are facing an unprecedented scenario where China appears to be going along with Trump’s request for them to apply pressure to the hermit kingdom.
The question remains, will the combined pressure of two major super powers be enough for Kim Jong-un to see reason? Or will the dictator, frantic to hold onto his power, only become more erratic as the world’s grip tightens around him.