Washington: President-elect Donald Trump has assured Americans that North Korea will not test an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the US even as he criticised China for failing to help rein in its reclusive ally’s nuclear ambitions.
His comments come a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in his televised New Year address appeared to try to put pressure on Trump by announcing that Pyongyang is in the “final stages” of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which can carry nuclear warheads.
“North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US,” Trump tweeted. “It won’t happen!”
It was not clear if Trump, who is scheduled to be sworn- in as US President on January 20, was expressing doubts about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities or was planning preventative action.
He went on to repeat his claim that China was not doing enough to help the US rein in North Korea and its leader, saying, “China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the US in totally one-sided trade, but won’t help with North Korea. Nice!” Trump wrote.
Since winning the election, Trump has suggested at least twice that China — North Korea’s economic benefactor and only real ally — is not pulling its weight when it comes to reining in Kim Jong Un’s regime.
Although the US has made it clear that it would never accept North Korea as a nuclear state, this is probably the first time Trump has clearly stated his policy on the isolated Stalinist state.
In his speech, Kim had said North Korea was now a “military power of the East that cannot be touched by even the strongest enemy”.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests over the last year, raising fears that it has made significant nuclear advances. But it has never successfully test-fired long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Experts estimate it might take less than five years for North Korea to test-fire an ICBM. But experts say the country has made enormous strides in the missile and nuclear fields since Kim took over as leader from his father Kim Jong-Il, who died in December 2011.