President Donald Trump would not rule out the use of military force against North Korea in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Saturday, just hours after Pyongyang launched a missile test in defiance of international pressure.
Trump downplayed the significance of North Korea’s “small missile launch,” which occurred early in the day. But when asked by host John Dickerson if he would consider military action in response to another nuclear test, Trump responded: “I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see.”
Later, when asked at during a factory tour before a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to mark his 100th day in office what his message on North Korea is, Trump told reporters: “You’ll soon find out, won’t you?”
Pressed on whether that meant military action, Trump said, “You’ll soon find out.”
The missile launched Saturday blew up over land in North Korean territory, said US Navy Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for the US Pacific Command.
Trump cast the launch as a direct snub of China, one of North Korea’s only allies and a nation seen by the Trump administration as a potential US ally in efforts to stamp out Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
“North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!” Trump tweeted after the launch.
Pyongyang’s show of defiance, at a time when its military ambition has reached its highest level in years, came just hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed a special meeting at the United Nations and called for increased pressure on North Korea.
“All options for responding to future provocations must remain on the table,” Tillerson said. “Diplomatic and financial leverage or power will be backed up by willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary.”
The launch was swiftly condemned by South Korean and Japanese leaders.