Trump warns North Korea on missile tests, says 'we'll see' if military action is needed

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army (KPA).
KCNA | Reuters

President Donald Trump declared that neither the U.S. nor China would be "happy" if North Korea tested more missiles, and said "we'll see" if military action would be needed to curb the country's nuclear ambitions.

Amid rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump told CBS on Saturday that Kim is "going to have to do what he has to do. But he understands we're not going to be very happy." Trump said Chinese President Xi Jinping would feel the same.

"If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy," Trump said of Kim, and suggested he was finessing his critiques of China's trade policy in part to get Beijing's support on pressuring Pyongyang.

"And I can tell you also, I don't believe the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either." When asked whether the U.S. would resort to military action, Trump replied: "I don't know. I mean, we'll see."

In the face of Pyongyang's defiance, the U.S. has stepped up a campaign to press North Korea into retreating. Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said "all options for responding to future provocations must remain on the table."

On Saturday, North Korea tested a short-range missile that failed instantly, raising speculation that the U.S. was hacking North Korea's weapons systems — a suggestion Trump refused to confirm or deny in the interview.

When asked why the country's missiles keep exploding, Trump stated firmly that "I'd rather not discuss it. But perhaps they're just not very good missiles. But eventually, he'll have good missiles."

Since his inauguration, Trump has taken a noticeably softer tone with China, including declining to call the country a "currency manipulator" despite his campaign pledges to do so. Trump, however, told CBS that Xi "is working with us" to rein in North Korea and was "working to try and resolve a very big problem" for both the U.S. and China.

"Can you imagine if I say, 'Hey, by the way, how are you doing with North Korea? Also, we're going to announce that you're a currency manipulator tomorrow,'" Trump said in the interview, which aired Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Correction: This story was revised to correct that the interview was conducted on Saturday.