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Donald Trump denies North Korea's nuclear capability claims

Donald Trump denies North Korea’s nuclear capability claims

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has slapped down North Korea’s claim that the country is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile. On Sunday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave a televised address where he said that the country was almost ready to test out the missile, known as an ICBM, which has the range to reach the U.S.

Pointing to an escalation in North Korean ballistic missile development in 2016, Kim stated: “Research and development of cutting-edge arms equipment is actively progressing and ICBM rocket test launch preparation is in its last stage.”

On Monday Trump was quick to reply via his usual channel of communication:

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006, including two in 2016. The most recent explosives trial, in September of last year, was said to have been the biggest yet. At the time, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said the test served to show the “maniacal recklessness” of Kim.

In the past, Trump has flip-flopped when asked how he will deal with the North Korean regime. The president-elect has both criticized Kim and offered to sit down with him for hamburgers. Asked for his thoughts on Kim, Trump said: “This guy, he’s like a maniac, OK? And you have to give him credit. How many young guys – he was, like, 26 or 25 when his father died – take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden, you know, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it.”

Trump has also made it clear that he blames China for failing to rein in the behavior of the rogue state: “China has control – absolute control — over North Korea. They don’t say it, but they do.” He reiterated this sentiment on Monday:

Amid growing concerns about North Korea’s missile testing, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in October said that any dialogue with the “paranoid” country was unlikely to help, and advocated a cap on its nuclear efforts instead. 

North Korea is already banned by the U.N. from testing any nuclear weapons. It has been repeatedly hit with sanctions since it began trialing nuclear missiles.

Cover: ASSOCIATED PRESS

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