It didn’t take long for a rogue nation to test the new US president — by showing off what they’ve developed under the watch of his predecessor. North Korea launched a mid-range ballistic missile while Donald Trump met with Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe. NBC’s Keir Simmons called it “a classic piece of North Korean attention-seeking,” and that the timing was no coincidence:
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) February 13, 2017
Simmons noted that the launch has both military and political considerations. The North Korean regime has been working on longer-range ICBMs despite heavy resistance in the international community. “In that sense, the Obama policy hasn’t worked,” Simmons remarked while pointing out that the missile wasn’t developed in the three weeks that Donald Trump has been president. Pyongyang may see this as a chance to “reset” the political situation with the change at the top of the West.
So far, at least, it doesn’t appear to be working. Both Russia and China immediately criticized North Korea for the provocation, and Trump had the opportunity to assert “one hundred percent” solidarity with Japan yesterday:
The launch happened while President Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his golf resort in Florida. In a brief joint appearance after the news of the missile test, the two presented a united front. Abe called the test “absolutely intolerable.” He said that in his summit with Trump at the White House on Friday the president “assured me the United States will always stand with Japan 100 percent.”
After Abe spoke, Trump, who had been standing behind him, took the microphone and said: “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.”
Trump joined with Japan and South Korea to demand an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to demand tougher sanctions, and it looks like Nikki Haley will have a busy afternoon:
The United States, Japan and South Korea have requested urgent diplomatic talks at the United Nations on Monday over North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch, with Seoul condemning what it called “serious military and security threats” and predicting more such tests.
A spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said Sunday night that the meeting is expected to take place Monday. The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Trump talked tough about North Korea on the campaign trail; now he has the opportunity to show his cards. Will his overtures to Russia pay off in dealing with the Kim regime? How about the concession on the “One China” policy last week with Beijing? If those were strategic plays, then Trump should have some markers to call in today.