Donald Trump has warned he will “solve” the nuclear threat posed by North Korea if China doesn’t.
Speaking from the Oval Office in an interview with the Financial Times, the US president gave China an ultimatum: “Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”
In a separate interview with the publication, deputy White House national security adviser KT McFarland warned: “There is a real possibility that North Korea will be able to hit the US with a nuclear-armed missile by the end of the first Trump term.”
The US sees North Korea as its most pressing threat after former president Barack Obama warned Trump about the substantial advancements Pyongyang has made with their nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
Trump confirmed he would be discussing the issue of North Korea with Chinese president Xi Jinping when he hosts the world leader at his resort this week.
The president added: “China has great influence over North Korea.
“And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t.
“If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.”
Ahead of the meeting, which will be the world leaders’ first, Trump raised hopes he would reach a deal of sorts with Xi.
The president told the Financial Times he has a “great deal of respect” for both China and its president.
He added: “I would not be at all surprised if we did something that would be very dramatic and good for both countries and I hope so.”
Earlier this month, an envoy claimed North Korea is preparing to launch an inter-continental ballistic missile that is capable of travelling 10,000km and could strike the US.
The envoy said Pyongyang will pursue “acceleration” of its nuclear and missile programme, including a “pre-emptive first-strike capability” and development of an ICBM missile.
Military officials claim Kim Jong-un is set to show the United States its capability of striking a designated target on the American mainland when it tests its next missile.
The officer, who did not want to be named, told the Korea Times: “The North showed off improved engine efficiency in a test last Saturday, and it will now focus on perfecting a long-range re-entry vehicle to make an operational ICBM.
“This is a step toward completing its ICBM technology.”
North Korea has never flight-tested its road-mobile KN-08 or KN-14 ICBMs, but they are believed to be capable of flying more than 10,000km – a range sufficient to reach the States.
Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the DPRK (North Korean) mission, told the United Nations in Geneva the North is developing a “pre-emptive first strike capability” and an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM).
A senior US official in Washington reported that the Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions as part of a broad review of measures to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat.
Choe said: “I think this is stemming from the visit by the Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson) to Japan, South Korea and China…We of course are not afraid of any act like that.
“Even prohibition of the international transactions system, the global financial system, this kind of thing is part of their system that will not frighten us or make any difference.”
He called existing sanctions “heinous and inhumane”.
North Korea has been under sanctions for “half a century” but the communist state survives by placing an emphasis on juche or “self-sufficiency”, he said.
His country wants a forum set up to examine the “legality and legitimacy of the sanctions regime”.
He denounced joint annual military exercises currently being carried out by the United States and South Korea on the divided peninsula and criticised remarks by Tillerson during his talks with regional allies last week.
“All he was talking about is for the United States to take military actions on DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Choe said.
North Korea rejects claims by Washington and Seoul that the military drills are defensive.
They involve strategic nuclear bombers and a nuclear submarine Columbus that recently entered South Korean ports, he said.
“In the light of such huge military forces involved in the joint military exercises, we have no other choice but to continue with our full acceleration of the nuclear programmes and missile programmes.
“It is because of these hostile activities on the part of the United States and South Korea.”
It comes as North Korea stepped up its war of words with Washington and declared “we’re ready for war” in a fiery state TV broadcast.
A state official roared that Pyongyang has “the will and capability” for conflict with Donald Trump’s America.
He said: “We have the will and capability to fully respond to any war which the US wants.
“If the businessman-turned-US officials thought that they would frighten us, they would soon recognise that their method would not work.”
Officials close to Trump responded by declaring the president is considering seizing dictator Kim Jong-un’s assets outside North Korea.
The outburst comes just after tyrant Kim released a propaganda video showing a US aircraft carrier being blown up and a bomber shot down in flames.
Snaps from the secretive state’s recent ballistic missile launches are shown alongside the haunting message: “A knife will be stabbed into the throat of the carrier.”
SOURCE: Yasmin Jeffery and Gemma Mullin