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Trump threatens to halt China trade after North Korea nuke test

President Trump threatened Sunday to halt trade with nations doing business with North Korea — an apparent warning to China — after Pyongyang announced it had tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb that could be transported on a ballistic missile.

Trump, who was scheduled to meet with his national security team on the crisis later Sunday, also declined to dismiss the possibility of a U.S. attack on North Korea, responding to a reporter's question by saying only, "We'll see."

Reports of the nuclear test, North Korea's sixth and the first since last September, drew swift condemnation from the international community, including South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Britain, Italy and the leaders of NATO and the European Union.

South Korea estimated the blast had a strength of 100 kilotons — far more powerful than the bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There was no immediate confirmation outside North Korea that the test involved a hydrogen bomb, or that it was small enough to be loaded onto a missile.

North Korea has made similar, unsubstantiated claims after some of its previous tests. 

Atomic weapons tested by North Korea in the past employ nuclear fission to split atoms. Hydrogen bombs use fuse atoms together — nuclear fusion — to release far greater amounts of energy.

Whatever the science, the latest test appeared to mark a significant step forward in the North’s quest for a viable nuclear missile capable of striking anywhere in the United States.

"North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States. ..." Trump said in the first of several tweets about Sunday's test.

Trump tweeted that North Korea is a "great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success."

Then, later: "The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea"

Trump has consistently pressed China, North Korea's primary trading partner by far, to use its considerable economic influence over Pyongyang to halt the North's nuclear buildup. China has its own concerns on the Korean Peninsula, and has no interest in any solution that could lead to a unified, democratic Korea. 

China's Foreign Ministry, however, did issue a strong statement chastising Pyongyang.

"Today, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, despite universal opposition from the international community, conducted another nuclear test," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "The Chinese government expresses firm opposition to and strong condemnation of the test."

Russian President Vladimir Putin was in China for an economic summit and discussed the test with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Kremlin said. Putin also spoke by phone with Japanese Prime mInister Shinzo Abe, who called for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to discuss stricter sanctions against the Kim regime.

Putin's Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling for a "reasonable and balanced " approach to the crisis. The statement questioned the growing international call for more sanctions, noting that sanctions imposed thus far had "not led to any positive outcome.”

Trump also directed a tweet at the government in Seoul: "South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!"

South Korean President Moon Jae-in won his nation's top post in May promoting a policy of negotiation with North Korea, even suggesting he would visit Pyongyang. On Sunday, however, his government strongly condemned North Korea's latest test and vowed to push for more sanctions by the United Nations Security Council aimed at further isolating Seoul's communist neighbor. 

"President Moon Jae-in said the country will never allow North Korea to continue advancing its nuclear and missile technologies," said Moon's key security adviser, Chung Eui-yong.

The latest test comes after The Washington Post reported that Trump had instructed advisers to prepare to withdraw from a free-trade agreement with South Korea. The Post, citing "several people close to the process," said national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn were among the high-ranking officials opposing the plan, in part due to concerns that such a move would strain ties with a key ally closely tied to the North Korean crisis.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement Sunday saying the national security team was monitoring closely the latest news out of Pyongyang.

"We will provide updates as necessary," the statement said.

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