President Trump on Tuesday dismissed North Korea's threat of a "Christmas gift" for the U.S., saying the military would “deal with it very successfully," Reuters reports.
Why it matters: North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un said in October that the U.S. had until year’s end to propose new concessions in talks over his country’s nuclear arsenal and warned the U.S. to not ignore the deadline.
Satellite imagery now confirms the construction of a new structure this month at a factory, near Pyongyang, where North Korea manufactures military trucks used as mobile launchers for long-range missiles.
Why it matters, from AP: North Korea has warned that what “Christmas gift” it gives the U.S. depends on what action Washington takes.
North Korea has begun fresh work at a factory involved in the development and production of intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, per satellite images shared by Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
Why it matters: Lewis said on Saturday that Pyongyang is expanding work at the March 16 Factory in Pyongsong, where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "watched preparations" for the 2017 test of the Hwasong-15 missile, which was theoretically capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
North Korea said on Saturday that it carried out another satellite launch test near the Chinese border, and that the unspecified test "would help bolster the country's nuclear deterrent," the Washington Post reports.
Why it matters: The reported test was conducted Friday evening — making it the second North Korean satellite launch in less than a week, state news agency KCNA said, per Reuters
In a Sunday tweet, President Trump doubled down on an argument that North Korea should not take denuclearization talks off the table — as the country stated it would on Saturday — because it could be seen as interfering in the upcoming presidential election.
What he's saying: "Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way," Trump tweeted. "He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore. He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November."
North Korea insisted that denuclearization has "already gone out of the negotiating table" on Saturday, in a statement from the country's ambassador to the United Nations.
The big picture: Denuclearization talks between the two countries have not achieved anything concrete since President Trump and Kim Jong-un signed a four-point peace plan last year — which was vague on the process of denuclearization.
South Korea's military says North Korea fired two short-range projectiles on Thursday that are believed to have come from a "super-large" multiple rocket launcher, per AP.
Between the lines: CNN notes that North Korea has conducted other missile tests on American holidays. It reports that nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea have been at a standstill for weeks, and that Kim Jong-un has given the Trump administration until the end of the year to change its strategy.
North Korean state media accused President Trump of using meetings with Kim Jong-un as something to "brag about," and said Pyongyang isn't interested in further summits unless it gets concrete results, per the Washington Post.
Context: Referring to Kim as "Mr. Chairman," Trump tweeted yesterday that North Korea's characterization of Joe Biden as a "rabid dog" was "somewhat" off the mark, but added that he's the man with whom to strike a deal. While Trump signed off with "see you soon," North Korea insists the U.S. is using nuclear talks to stall for time and has issued an end-of-year deadline to keep them alive.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Sunday that the U.S. and South Korea have canceled an annual joint military exercise as an "act of goodwill" in order to “keep the door open” for talks to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons, according to the Associated Press.
The big picture: The U.S. and its regional allies have been trying to coax North Korea back to negotiations to eliminate its nuclear weapons and missiles since talks stalled earlier this year.
Chung Eui-yong, South Korea's national security adviser, said on Sunday that the United States is “very actively” trying to convince North Korea to return to negotiations ahead of an unofficial deadline for dialogue, Reuters reports.
Background: North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un warned in October that the U.S. had until year’s end to take a "substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal" of its "hostile policy." Chung said South Korea is taking North Korea's deadline "very seriously."