President Donald Trump has said that the U.S. will solve the nuclear threat from North Korea, with or without China’s help.
In the latest interview with the U.K. paper Financial Times, he said:
“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”
On asked whether he thought the U.S. could succeed, he said, “totally!”
He was speaking ahead of the scheduled visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping this week. President Trump told FT:
“China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.”
When the interviewer pressed further, President Trump didn’t clarify or didn’t provide details of what actions could he take.
The brief comments from President Trump came just days before his meeting with Mr. Xi in Mar-a-Lago on Thursday. This is the latest warning over North Korea’s nuclear threat.
There are fears that Pyongyang could develop a long-range nuclear missile capable of reaching mainland U.S.
During his trip to Asia in March, U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said the option of preemptive military action was “on the table.”
A month earlier than that, Defense Secretary, General James Mattis warned the North that any nuclear weapon would have to face an “overwhelming” response.
China is North Korea’s only International ally, and it has taken action against North Korea’s latest missile test by banning coal imports from the North until the end of 2017, cutting one of the major sources of cash income for Pyongyang.
President Trump is expected to pressure China into doing more against the North in the upcoming meeting; he has pointed that he could use trade issue as leverage.
He told FT that “trade was an incentive,” but also said that he didn’t intend to discuss tariffs in his meeting with the Chinese President.
At the end of the last month, President Trump signed a couple of executive orders dealing with U.S. trade deficits, foreign trade abuses, and reviewing current rules.
Although the White House insisted that China was not the focus of these orders, China is the largest source of U.S. trade deficit, accounting for almost 70% of the total deficit ($347bn out of $502bn).
Mr. Trump had earlier tweeted:
“The meeting next week with China will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits.”