Refusing to believe that Kim Jong Un would break his promise to hold off on hostilities at least until another round of talks with the US could be scheduled, President Trump brushed off reports about a short-range missile test in North Korea, tweeting that "I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it. He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me."
Trump concluded - in what appeared to be an attempt to reassure Kim before he does something even more drastic - by adding that a deal "will happen."
The tweet, posted while Trump was in a motorcade to the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, was the president’s first response to the news that the North had fired an unidentified short-range missile in the direction of the East Sea Saturday morning, local time.
Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it. He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2019
The incident marks the first missile launch since November 28, 2017 when the North launched an ICBM which traveled 600 miles in 50 minutes until crashing into the Sea of Japan.
South Korean and US authorities "are analyzing details of the missile," added the JCS. However, South Korean intelligence later changed their description of the launch, and stopped referring to "missiles" and instead started referring to "projectiles."
Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave the United States "till the end of this year" before he walks away from negotiations over his country's missile program, suggesting that the Trump administration needs to be more flexible. And this latest launch, according to Bloomberg, is the clearest sign of frustration yet at the lack of progress in talks between the North and the US.
Via a spokeswoman, South Korea President Moon Jae-in denounced the launch, saying it "goes against" a military agreement the two Koreas reached in September to halt "hostile activities."
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha discussed the incident with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo by phone on Saturday, the ministry said in a statement. Nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon also called US Special Representative Stephen Biegun, who will be in the region next week visiting Japan and South Korea.
Analysts said the launch appeared to be more of a 'message' than a deliberate provocation.
"This is an expected move from North Korea - not too provoking, but urging the U.S. to take a slightly stronger stance than their initial one," said Kim Hyun-wook, of the Korean National Diplomatic Academy. "This seems like a message for Stephen Biegun’s planned trip to the peninsula."
The timing of the missile launch is certainly curious, following reports circulated by the Chinese sources warning that trade talks with the US might be in jeopardy over the White House's refusal to compromise on the few remaining priorities on which they haven't already offered major concessions.
We can't help but wonder: Did Kim get the 'tap' from Beijing to create a distraction to ratchet up pressure on the White House as Beijing pushes for a trade deal that will ultimately result in the rollback of US tariffs in exchange for billions of dollars of purchases of agricultural goods?