U.S. President Donald Trump hurled more insults at North Korean President Kim Jong Un on Thursday, referring to him again as “Little Rocket Man,” the same day the reclusive country released images of a massive intercontinental ballistic missile.
Trump took to social media to dismiss China’s attempt to cool the North’s weapons progress.
“The Chinese Envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted. “Hard to believe his people, and the military, put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemned the launch.”
Trump’s jab at Kim comes the same day North Korea released photos of the Hwasong-15, a new intercontinental ballistic missile it claims can reach any target in the continental United States.
The North conducted it first missile launch in 70 days on Tuesday. The rogue nation hadn’t launched a missile since lobbing one over Japan on Sept. 15.
“It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken,” U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday. “It’s a continued effort to build a threat — a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace, and certainly, the United States.”
During a speech in Missouri on Wednesday, Trump referred to the North Korean leader as “Little Rocket Man” and called him a “sick puppy.”
The North’s latest launch came after South Korea warned Kim’s regime could have its nuclear arsenal completed sooner than expected.
Speaking at a news conference in Seoul on Tuesday, South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon warned of the faster production just as Japan had suggested the North might be preparing for a missile launch.
“Experts think North Korea will take two to three more years but they are developing their nuclear capabilities faster than expected,” the minister said. “We cannot rule out the possibility that Pyongyang may declare the completion of their nuclear program in a year.”
As the Associated Press points out, experts appeared to have reached a general conclusion based on photos of the North’s latest missile – it’s bigger and more advanced than expected.
In a tweet just after the photos were published, Michael Duitsman, a researcher at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif., said: “This is a very big missile … And I don’t mean ‘big for North Korea.’ Only a few countries can produce missiles of this size, and North Korea just joined the club.”
However, experts suggest though the missile is large in size, the North might not be able to produce a nuclear payload light enough to reach the U.S.
–with files from the Associated Press