North Korea missile test: how Trump’s unpredictability changes the game

by Dylan Loh

Given that North Korea can already produce a nuclear weapon, it is vital to keep it from developing an intercontinental ballistic missile. On this measure, the rest of the world has so far failed – and that was made clearer than ever on July 4 2017, when Pyongyang claimed to have successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time. If reports of the missile’s performance are accurate, Kim Jong-un may soon have the ability to hit US territory for the first time. Donald Trump previously said this will never be allowed – and, sure enough, the US and South Korea responded to the test with a missile drill of their own in the Sea of Japan.

Trump has been banging this drum on and off since his presidency began – albeit very inconsistently. Heralding the end of Barack Obama’s policy of “strategic patience”, he has ostensibly hardened the US’s stance on North Korea, saying that there is chance of a “major, major conflict” if the country does not curb its nuclear ambitions. Dylan Loh asks how President Trump might respond to this latest missile test.