President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that he wasn’t “disturbed” by a series of North Korean short-range missile tests conducted last week, despite concerns that the tests violate both United Nations restrictions and an informal agreement inked between North Korea and the United States last year.
Trump tweeted about the tests Saturday, calling the missiles “small weapons,” and focusing, instead, on North Korea’s comments about former Vice President and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden.
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 J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2019
“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?” Trump tweeted.
The statement runs counter to his Administration’s official position on the tests. On Saturday, National Security Adviser, John Bolton, told media that he had “no doubt” that the tests were in violation of United Nations regulations and that North Korea should be held responsible, according to CNN.
“The UN Security Council resolution prohibits the launch of any ballistic missiles and there is no doubt that North Korea has violated the resolution,” Bolton told reporters.
North Korea resumed short- and long-range missile tests earlier this month, its first since 2017, before it began actively negotiating with the Trump Administration to end sanctions across the board and resume normal relations with western nations.
White House staff wrote off allegations that the President was actively contradicting his own top advisers by saying that North Korea’s new efforts aren’t, in fact, disturbing, by indicating that Trump was simply agreeing with North Korean state television’s accompanying comments about Biden, calling the former VP’s comments, critical of North Korea, a “sophism of an imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being, let alone a politician.”
“I think they agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning. “The president doesn’t need somebody else to give him an assessment of Joe Biden. He’s given his own assessment a number of times.”
Biden’s campaign responded by saying that Trump had been tricked into making concessions to North Korea.
Typically, the back-and-forth between Trump and his advisers, and his off-the-cuff social media remarks wouldn’t have immediate or catastrophic consequences, but, this week, Trump is on a state visit to Japan, and engaging in a series of meetings with Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
Japan is deeply concerned about North Korea, given that the country is within targeting range. Abe agreed with Bolton, telling reporters over the weekend that he also believes North Korea’s recent missile tests are in violation of United Nations resolutions, and that he would like to see North Korea discontinue their attacks. The United States and Japan haven’t agreed on an approach to North Korea, but Bolton said he would be encouraging Japanese diplomats to return to talks with North Korea.
Trump and Shinzo Abe will discuss “making sure the integrity of the Security Council resolutions are maintained” during meetings on Monday.