Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump would not rule out the use of military force against North Korea in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Saturday, just hours after Pyongyang launched a missile test in defiance of international pressure.
Trump downplayed the significance of North Korea’s “small missile launch,” which occurred early in the day. But when asked by host John Dickerson if he would consider military action in response to another nuclear test, Trump responded: “I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see.”
Still, Trump expressed tepid admiration for North Korea’s leader.
“People are saying, ‘Is he sane?’ I have no idea,” the President said, before noting Kim Jong Un’s rise to power at a young age.
“So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie,” he said. “But we have a situation that we just cannot let — we cannot let what’s been going on for a long period of years continue.”
Later, when asked at during a factory tour before a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to mark his 100th day in office what his message on North Korea is, Trump told reporters: “You’ll soon find out, won’t you?”
Pressed on whether that meant military action, Trump said, “You’ll soon find out.”
The missile launched Saturday blew up over land in North Korean territory, said US Navy Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for the US Pacific Command.
Trump cast the launch as a direct snub of China, one of North Korea’s only allies and a nation seen by the Trump administration as a potential US ally in efforts to stamp out Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
“North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!” Trump tweeted after the launch.