President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter late Monday to publicly dismiss North Korea’s claims that they’re close to developing successful intercontinental ballistic missiles, making them one step closer to being a true nuclear threat to the United States.
“North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S,” Trump wrote. “It won’t happen!”
North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
Trump’s comments came in response to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un claiming over the weekend that his country was on the brink of being able to test long-range ICBMs.
If North Korea is successful in developing ICBMs, they could potentially make good on their promise to send a nuclear warhead to the U.S. In recent years, the communist country has routinely conducted nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
In fact, over the last decade, North Korea has conducted a total of five nuclear tests. And in just 2016 alone, they completed nearly two dozen ballistic missile tests. They even launched a satellite early last year, causing many to fear it was a veiled test-run for ICBMs.
And because of the nation’s increasing hostility, many are calling on Trump to make North Korea a focus of his foreign policy strategy after he is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
But whether Trump will do that remains to be seen. He didn’t discuss North Korea much during both the primary and general elections, and hasn’t offered many indications about his policy regarding the communist stronghold since.
Trump’s top Cabinet nominees have also not signaled how they would react to a hostile North Korea. Though some suspect Trump’s hawkish nominee for secretary of defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, is likely to take a hard-line stance against the country.
It’s unclear what role China will play. Shortly following Trump winning the White House late last year, Trump broke American’s “One China” policy by communicating with Taiwan’s president, which the Chinese did not appreciate. Now, China will need to decide whether to play the role of ally to North Korea or East Asian mediator.