Kim Jong Un’s weekend missile launch -- and the U.S.’s muted reaction -- heralds a new, riskier phase in North Korean efforts to test President Donald Trump’s limits in stalled nuclear talks.
On Saturday, Kim oversaw a military exercise that non-proliferation experts said included the launch of a short-range ballistic missile -- a test banned under United Nations sanctions and North Korea’s first such provocation since November 2017. Rather than condemn the move, U.S. and South Korean officials played down the threat, with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo noting the weapons “were relatively short range.”
While that may help preserve nuclear talks with Kim, North Korea analysts warned that it could be seen by the regime as a green light for similar tests going forward. The launch followed Kim’s pledges to push back against international economic sanctions after Trump walked away from their nuclear summit in Hanoi in February.
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