President Trump said that North Korea's three short-range missile tests this week do not comprise a violation of his agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore last year, but still told Kim to "do the right thing" in a series of Friday tweets.
"I believe that Chairman Kim has a great and beautiful vision for his country, and only the United States, with me as President, can make that vision come true. He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump!"
Why it matters: The president has repeatedly downplayed North Korea's ongoing missile tests since his third meeting with Kim, which took place at the Korean DMZ in June. Trump claimed stalled nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington would resume after the DMZ meeting and trumpeted progress between the two countries.
North Korean state news agency KCNA says leader Kim Jong-un "expressed satisfaction" after overseeing the test-fire of a newly developed large-caliber multiple rocket launcher system.
The big picture: KCNA's report on Thursday morning local time contradicts South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff's assessment that Pyongyang had fired 2 short-range ballistic missiles off its eastern coast in the incident early Wednesday.
North Korea fired 2 short-range ballistic missiles off its eastern coast early on Wednesday, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Why it matters: The projectiles did not pose a threat to the United States or its allies, a U.S. official told CNN, but North Korea nonetheless has appeared to have conducted its second missile test in a week. President Trump has repeatedly downplayed North Korea's missile tests since meeting Kim Jong-un at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) last month.
Less than a month ago, President Trump was standing on North Korean soil with Kim Jong-un. This week, North Korea carried out 2 more tests of an advanced missile first shown in May, but to a longer range — demonstrating that its arsenal continues to improve even as disarmament talks nominally continue.
Where it stands: South Korean President Moon Jae-in has spoken of disarmament and peace as “irreversible” processes, and Trump apparently assumes that the specifics of an agreement will sort themselves out, thanks to his personal relationship with Kim Jong-un. But it's clear that Kim has other plans.
North Korea has launched 2 short-range missiles 267 miles into the Sea of Japan, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, according to AP.
Why it matters: This is the first report of North Korea firing projectiles since President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone last month. A South Korean official said at least 1 of the missiles appeared to be a new design, per the BBC.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed to parliament this week that Alek Sigley — the Aussie student who went missing and was allegedly held on reports of espionage — had safely left North Korea, AP reports.
What they're saying: North Korea claimed on Saturday that Sigley spread anti-Pyongyang propaganda and engaged in spying. A North Korean state news agency reported that Sigley was expelled out of "humanitarian leniency," says AP.
North Korea's mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Wednesday the U.S. is "obsessed with sanctions" and "more and more hell-bent on hostile acts."
The big picture: Pyongyang's delegation to the U.N. made the comments despite Sunday's meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at which they agreed to resume stalled nuclear talks and a top U.S negotiator signaling flexibility in negotiations.
Steve Biegun, the Trump administration's North Korea negotiator, told reporters in an off the record briefing Sunday that the administration wanted a "complete freeze" of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction program while they are negotiating with the U.S.
Between the lines: Biegun's off the record remarks, made aboard Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's plane during the return trip to Washington from Korea, signaled he's willing to be more flexible with North Korea than the hardliners in the Trump administration. Biegun said the administration isn't ready to lift the sanctions against North Korea if it freezes its weapons program, but that it could give Kim other concessions, such as humanitarian relief and improved diplomatic ties.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in told a Cabinet meeting Monday his meeting with President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Demilitarized Zone marked "an end of hostile relations," AP reports.
Why it matters: Trump on Sunday became the first sitting U.S. president to enter North Korea before his summit with the 2 Korean leaders. Leading Democrats dismissed the event as little more than a "photo op." AP notes that many experts also believe it lacked substance, but Moon said the talks were the "start of an era of peace."
National security adviser John Bolton denied a New York Times report that the U.S. was considering endorsing a North Korean nuclear freeze in the next round of negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington in a Monday tweet.
"I read this NYT story with curiosity. Neither the NSC staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to 'settle for a nuclear freeze by NK.' This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President. There should be consequences."
The big picture, per the Times report: A nuclear freeze would pause further weapons development in North Korea but allow it to keep existing weapons — a step back from the Trump administration's previously outlined goal of complete denuclearization.