(CNSNews.com) – President Trump has expressed a willingness to accept a less-than-ideal trade deal with China if necessary to get Beijing to help end the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and prevent a potentially devastating war.
“Frankly, North Korea is maybe more important than trade,” he told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” in an interview broadcast Sunday. “Trade is very important, but massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade.”
Trump suggested that he could “use trade as a method” to prod China to use the considerable influence that it wields over Kim Jong-un’s regime in Pyongyang.
“If China can help us with North Korea and can solve that problem, that’s worth making not as good a trade deal for the United States – excuse me – right?”
In the interview Trump indicated that, should North Korea go ahead with another nuclear test – it would be the sixth since 2006 – neither he nor Chinese President Xi Jinping would be happy.
Asked by interviewer John Dickerson whether being “not happy” means he could take military action against North Korea, Trump kept his cards close to his chest.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, we’ll see.”
On Saturday, North Korea launched a missile – its third in April and the eighth since Trump took office. Like the previous two attempts, on April 5 and 15, the mid-range projectile fired on Saturday failed shortly after launch, according to U.S. and South Korean military officials.
“Why do these missiles keep blowing up?” Dickerson asked, to which Trump replied, “I’d rather not discuss it.”
“You don’t want to discuss it because maybe we have something to do with it?” the interviewer pressed.
“I just don’t want to discuss it,” repeated Trump, noting that he has said on past occasion in other contexts that the U.S. should not be signaling in advance its military strategies and movements.
“It is a chess game; I just don’t want people to know what my thinking is,” he said.
Nonetheless, Trump added that Kim will eventually develop a better “delivery system.”
“And if that happens – we can’t allow it to happen.”
Saturday’s reportedly failed missile launch came hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chaired a special U.N. Security Council session focused on confronting the North Korean nuclear threat.
Tillerson at that meeting said regime change in Pyongyang was not the U.S. goal, but also stressed that diplomatic and economic steps must be backed up by a willingness to step military action if necessary.
“We much prefer a negotiated solution to this problem,” he said. “But we are committed to defending ourselves and our allies against North Korean aggression.”
Tillerson urged increased diplomatic and economic pressures on the Kim regime, pressing nations to suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.
He called for new and tougher sanctions, and said while the U.S. would prefer third-country entities and individuals that have been supporting North Korea’s illicit activities to correct their behavior themselves, it would “not hesitate to sanction” them if they fail to do so.
In his closing remarks at the meeting, Tillerson – without naming names – had blunt words for any member of the Security Council that fails to implement sanctions vigorously against North Korea.
“Any failure to take action diminishes your vote for these resolutions of the past, and diminishes your vote for future resolutions, and it de-values your seat at this council,” he declared. “We must have full, complete compliance by all members of the council.”
Permanent council member China has long been North Korea’s closest diplomatic ally and biggest trade partner.