Donald Trump Defends ‘Friend’ Kim Jong Un After North Korea Launches Missile

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the press during a signing of a “safe third country” agreement in the Oval Office of the White House July 26, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

President Donald Trump defended North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday after the country launched its third short-range missile in just over a week. According to The Washington Post, the president downplayed the weapons testing, arguing that the launch wasn’t “a violation of trust” because he knows that Kim wouldn’t want to “disappoint” him.

In a series of Friday morning tweets, Trump addressed concerns that North Korea is ramping up its nuclear program. While the president acknowledged that the launches may violate United Nations resolutions, Trump said that he and Kim didn’t say anything about short-range missiles when they talked at their Singapore summit.

“Kim Jong Un and North Korea tested 3 short range missiles over the last number of days. These missiles tests are not a violation of our signed Singapore agreement, nor was there discussion of short range missiles when we shook hands,” he began with a tweet.

“There may be a United Nations violation, but… Chairman Kim does not want to disappoint me with a violation of trust, there is far too much for North Korea to gain — the potential as a Country, under Kim Jong Un’s leadership, is unlimited,” Trump wrote in a second tweet.

The president concluded in a final tweet that he believes Kim has a “beautiful vision for his country” and the United States “with me as President” can make that happen. He asserted that the North Korean leader was too smart to “disappoint” him.

Trump’s tweets come hours after reports surfaced that North Korean conducted a test launch of short-range missiles, firing from Pyongyang into the Sea of Japan.

The move on Kim’s part reignites concerns that he is using talks with Trump in order to stall negotiations and buy time to build up his country’s nuclear weapon technology. Critics say that the North Korean leader has no intention of coming to a disarmament agreement.

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North Korea treats its weapons testing as a warning to its neighbor to the south. Trump says that the short-range missiles are a standard weapon and not the more concerning long-range weapons that could reach U.S. shores. He asserted that their use doesn’t fall under last year’s agreement with the North Korean leader.

The White House says that Trump has made progress in working with Kim after the two met in person in the demilitarized zone on June 30.

Until the recent launches, Trump had bragged that North Korea hadn’t launched nuclear or long-range missiles in more than 18 months.