Trump dismisses North Korean tests of “some small weapons”

In an apparent contradiction of his national security adviser, US President Donald Trump has downplayed recent North Korean missile tests, tweeting from Tokyo they did not concern him.

Key points:

  • Mr Trump tweeted said he was not worried “North Korea fired off some small weapons”
  • Mr Trump’s national security adviser had previously said North Korea’s missile tests violated UN resolutions
  • While in Japan Mr Trump also derided political rival Joe Biden

Mr Trump is on a state visit to Japan, where he played golf with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe and sat ringside at a sumo wrestling match where he awarded a special Trump trophy to the winner.

North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me, & also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?//Donald Trump

Mr Trump, who is the first American president to present a trophy at the tournament, awarded the giant eagle-topped “President’s Cup” to wrestler Asanoyama in honour of his “outstanding achievement”.

He then hoisted the hefty cup, which the White House said stands 137 centimetres tall and weighs 27–32 kilograms, into Asanoyama’s arms with the help of an official.

Mr Trump also said on Sunday criticism from the North Korean leader about of one of his Democratic rivals, former vice-president Joe Biden, had made him smile.

Large men wrestle in the foreground while Trump and Abe watch with their wives from the crowd.
PHOTO: Mr Trump and his wife Melania watching a sumo wrestling match in Japan with Mr Abe and his wife Akie. (Reuters: Jonathan Ernst)

“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim [Jong-un] will keep his promise to me,” Mr Trump said on Twitter.

National security adviser John Bolton had told reporters at a briefing on Saturday a series of short-range missile tests by North Korea earlier this month were a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

“In terms of violating UN Security Council resolutions, there is no doubt about that,” Mr Bolton said, responding to the May 4 and 9 teststhat ended a late 2017 pause in launches.

Mr Trump ignored a shouted question on Sunday about whether he agreed with Mr Bolton’s assessment.

John Bolton speaking into a microphone pointing his finger

Mr Trump and other administration officials have sought to downplay the significance of the tests, insisting they did not violate an agreement Mr Trump reached with Mr Kim for a moratorium on launches.

“The moratorium was focused, very focused, on intercontinental missile systems, the ones that threaten the United States,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a recent television interview.

In Japan, short-range missiles pose a serious threat because of the country’s proximity to North Korea.

Mr Trump is expected to discuss concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs with Mr Abe during his stay in Tokyo.

Mr Abe has yet to meet with Mr Kim, but recently offered to meet him without preconditions in an effort to restore diplomatic ties

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