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Despite the United States' insistence that North Korea halt its missile tests, U.S. spy agencies detected the rogue communist regime loading two anti-ship cruise missiles on a patrol boat on the country’s east coast just days ago.
It's the first time these missiles have been deployed on this type of platform since 2014, U.S. officials with knowledge of the latest intelligence in the region told Fox News on Monday.
It also points to more evidence that North Korea isn't listening to the diplomatic threats from the West.
“The best signal that North Korea could give us that they're prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in the Philippines Monday.
North Korea loaded two Stormpetrel anti-ship cruise missiles on a Wonsan guided-missile patrol boat at Toejo Dong on North Korea’s east coast.
“North Korea is not showing any evidence it plans to halt its missile tests,” said one official who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive information. “It's a trend that does not bode well for hopes of de-escalating tensions on the [Korean] peninsula.”
The latest moves by Pyongyang point to a likely missile test in the days ahead or it could be a defense measure should the U.S. Navy dispatch more warships to the Korean peninsula, officials said.
A 1999 interview could offer a window into Trump's thinking about North Korea
Donald Trump told Tim Russert in an interview nearly 20 years ago that "the biggest problem this world has is nuclear proliferation" and that it would be "good to sit down and negotiate" with North Korea before the situation spirals out of control.
"You say that you, as president, would be willing to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea's nuclear capability," Russert said.
"First I'd negotiate," Trump replied. "I'd negotiate like crazy. I'd make sure that we tried to get the best deal possible."
"Look, Tim — if a man walks up to you and puts a gun to your head and says, 'give me your money,' wouldn't you rather know where he's coming from before he had the gun in his hand?" he said.
Trump's interview with Russert resurfaced on Tuesday as tensions with North Korea escalated dramatically.
The US intelligence community assessed last month that Pyongyang has developed technology that would allow it to miniaturize nuclear weapons, according to a Washington Post report published Tuesday morning. Asked about the report, Trump said that further threats from North Korea would be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen before."
Trump told Russert in 1999 that "in three or four years" North Korea was going to have nuclear weapons "pointed all over the world, specifically at the United States."
Ideally, he said, the US would try diplomacy first. But "if that negotiation doesn't work, better solve the problem now than solve it later."
Russert argued that the nuclear fallout from a preemptive strike could be "devastating to the Korean peninsula."
When Trump replied that he wasn't advocating for the US to strike preemptively with a nuclear weapon, only that the US try to take out North Korea's missile systems, Russert said even eliminating that nuclear potential could create a fallout. South Korea's capital, Seoul, is only 35 miles from the North Korean border.
Even if the US didn't target North Korea's nuclear capability directly, Pyongyang could easily attack South Korea — a US ally — with conventional weapons in retaliation for any American strikes.
Still, Trump said, North Korea is "laughing at us. They think we're a bunch of dummies."
"You want to do it in five years when they have warheads all over the place, every one of them pointing to New York City and Washington?" Trump said. "Or do you want to do something now?"