North Korea kicked off 2017 with Kim Jong Un suggesting the country is nearly ready to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile.
But President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t seem convinced, saying “it won’t happen.”
Trump responded to Kim's annual New Year's address on Sunday, in which he said that plans for launching a missile have “reached the final stage," though he did not explicitly say it was an intercontinental ballistic missile. The test would come a year after testing what the North claims was its first hydrogen bomb.
During his speech, Kim said he would bolster his country's military capabilities unless the U.S. stopped war games with South Korea. He stopped short of threatening a war with the South, arguing that the country had to avoid another Korean war. Instead, he said, the country should focus on building its economy under a five-year plan announced in May.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said in a statement that it “strongly condemns” Kim’s threat to proceed with a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile and strengthen North Korea’s nuclear-weapon capabilities.
Trump has said in the past that he would work with China to “close down” North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, but that strategy may have changed. During the general election he said it was up to China to deal with the threat North Korea posed in the region.
China, North Korea's biggest ally, signed on to international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council in response to North Korea's nuclear weapons tests, but one expert told USA TODAY it could walk away from them.
Trump followed up with a swipe at China and its relationship with North Korea.
Contributing: The Associated Press.