WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States is warning that North Korea is “quickly closing off” the prospect of a diplomatic resolution to its nuclear provocations.
The Trump administration has launched a government-wide effort to identify options for confronting Pyongyang following its unprecedented intercontinental ballistic missile launch. President Donald Trump and other senior officials have dangled the prospect of punishing countries that trade with North Korea – a threat aimed directly at China, Pyongyang’s biggest benefactor.
In a tweet Wednesday morning, Trump questioned why the U.S. should continue what he sees as bad trade deals “with countries that do not help us.”
Some administration officials are still holding out hope of persuading China to ratchet up economic pressure on Pyongyang, despite Trump’s increasingly pessimistic attitude toward Beijing.
Meanwhile, South Korean warplanes and navy ships have fired a barrage of missiles into the waters during one-day drills aimed at boosting a readiness against possible North Korean aggression.
Thursday’s drills off the east coast were previously scheduled but they occurred two days after North Korea test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile.
South Korea’s navy says the drills involve 15 warships including a 3,200-ton-class destroyer, helicopters and fighter jets.
The North’s ICBM launch was a milestone in its efforts to pursue an arsenal of long-range nuclear missiles capable of reaching anywhere in the United States. Analysts say the missile tested Tuesday could reach Alaska if launched at a normal trajectory.
After the launch, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he will never put his weapons programs up for negotiations.