Washington: US President Donald Trump has said that North Korea’s recent missile tests were not a “breach of trust”.
“They’re short-range and I don’t consider that a breach of trust at all. And, you know, at some point I may. But at this point no,” Trump said in an interview with the Politico on Friday.
“These were short-range missiles and very standard stuff. Very standard,” he said.
North Korea’s second missile launch in five days on Thursday – part of what it said were military drills designed to bolster the nuclear-armed country’s “various long-range strike means” – was widely seen as a move to put more pressure on Trump amid stalled nuclear talks with the US, The Japan Times reported on Saturday.
Trump added that he might eventually lose faith in his friendly relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“I mean it’s possible that at some point I will, but right now not at all,” he said.
The Thursday launches, which the US and South Korean militaries acknowledged were short-range missiles that flew 420 and 270 km, would violate UN sanctions resolutions banning the use of ballistic missile technology by the North.
Those weapons were believed to be versions of Russia’s Iskander ballistic missile.
Thursday’s launches followed a similar drill led by Kim on May 4, when the North fired several rounds of unidentified short-range “projectiles” into the Sea of Japan that the US later referred to as “rockets and missiles”.
Prior to the two recent launches, the North’s last known missile test came more than 500 days ago, when it test-fired a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which experts believe is capable of striking much, if not all, of the continental US.
Pyongyang in April 2018 had declared a “suspension” of nuclear and long-range missile launches. A short-range test would not violate its unilateral suspension.
The second summit between Trump and Kim, held in Vietnam in February, collapsed without a deal due to large differences over the scope of North Korea’s denuclearisation and potential sanctions relief by the US.
Nuclear talks between the two countries have languished in the months since, with North Korea criticizing Washington’s position in the negotiations and Kim setting an end-of-the-year deadline for progress.
A senior North Korean official warned late in April of an “undesired consequence” if Washington does not adjust its policy by the deadline.
In April, Kim said he is willing to meet with Trump for a third time if Washington comes to the table with the “correct posture” – but laid down his deadline “for a bold decision from the US”.