President Trump declared Wednesday that talking to North Korea is “not the answer,” criticizing what he described as “extortion” payments to the regime as Pyongyang’s latest missile tests raise tensions anew in the region.
“The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!” the president tweeted Wednesday morning.
The president’s tweet comes hours after the U.S. Missile Defense Agency announced it successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii in a new test of its defense system at sea. The test came after a previous failed test in June from the same warship, the USS John Paul Jones.
MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in a statement that they “will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.”
The latest tweet could put Trump at odds with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has suggested a possible dialogue with North Korea.
As for Trump's "extortion" claim, he could be referring to food aid provided by the U.S. and others in the past when North Korea has temporarily halted nuclear development.
According to a 2014 Congressional Research Service report, “between 1995 and 2008, the United States provided North Korea with over $1.3 billion in assistance: slightly more than 50 percent for food aid and about 40 percent for energy assistance.”
The warnings from Trump come after the rogue regime launched a missile over Japan.
The president made clear Tuesday that “all options are on the table” in response.
“The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” Trump said in a written statement released by the White House on Tuesday. “Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations in the world. All options are on the table.”
North Korea on Tuesday fired a midrange ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload that flew over U.S. ally Japan and splashed into the northern Pacific Ocean.
The distance and type of missile test seemed designed to show that North Korea can back up a threat to target the U.S. territory of Guam, if it chooses to do so.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.