WASHINGTON – North Korea has reignited its provocative behavior, testing two missiles over the past week. The launches indicate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is still working on building up his missile program and Washington isn't happy.
President Trump says he takes this latest provocation "very seriously."
"Nobody's happy about it, I know they want to negotiate, they talk about negotiating - but I don't think they're ready to negotiate," the president told reporters at the White House Thursday.
US officials are looking into the type of missiles Kim fired. North Korean state media reports "various long-range strike means" were tested, but the details are important.
If the north is testing ballistic missiles, that could result in even more sanctions after Kim's unsuccessful attempt to get sanctions relief has led to a diplomatic stalemate with Washington.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in warned Kim his actions risk "throwing cold water" on negotiations.
In testing missiles that pose a threat to South Korea rather than the US mainland, some experts think Kim is seeing how far he can press President Trump.
In his New Year's speech, Kim said he hopes to continue talks with Trump but would seek a "new way" if the US doesn't loosen sanctions.
Meanwhile, as tensions escalate, the US has seized a North Korean cargo ship carrying coal that was used to violate international sanctions.
Coal revenue is believed to fund the country's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program.
White House officials say President Trump isn't backing down.
"Our position in regards to North Korea is going to continue to be the maximum pressure campaign. Our focus is on the denuclearization," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Thursday.
North Korea's missile tests may indicate Kim is stepping back from diplomacy which posts a serious ongoing challenge for the Trump administration and America's allies.