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Even after latest missile test, Trump stands with North Korean leader

After making a series of concessions, Trump used to take credit for the cessation of North Korean weapons testing. So much for that idea.
Image: Kim Jong Un attends launching of ballistic missile Hwasong-12
epa06207874 An undated photo released on 16 September 2017 by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea, is described...

As part of a curious foreign policy, Donald Trump has already made a striking number of concessions to North Korea's Kim Jong-un – a rogue dictator the American president says he loves, respects, and trusts. The Republican gave the North Korean leader the bilateral talks he wanted. And the international legitimacy he wanted. And the cessation of military exercises he wanted. And the propaganda opportunities he wanted.

But according to Trump, he hasn't come away empty-handed. For months, the Republican has been quick to argue that he deserves credit for the cessation of North Korean weapons testing.

As regular readers know, that boast collapsed last month, after North Korea claimed to have test-fired a new type of "tactical guided weapon."

Oddly enough, a week later, Trump pretended the weapons test didn't happen, telling reporters, "There's been no tests. There's been no nothing." The rhetoric was wrong at the time, and it's just a little worse now.

North Korea has conducted a "strike drill" for multiple launchers, firing tactical guided weapons into the East Sea in a military drill supervised by leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday, the North's state media reported on Sunday.The purpose of the drill was to test performance of "large-caliber long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons by defense units," the Korean Central News Agency said.Photographs released by KCNA showed the tactical guided weapons fired could be a short-range, ground-to-ground ballistic missiles, according to Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Korea's Kyungnam University's Institute of Far Eastern Studies.

According to North Korea, Kim Jong-un, Trump's buddy in Pyongyang, ordered and oversaw the latest weapons test.

Soon after, the American president turned to Twitter to say that the North Korean dictator "knows that I am with him."

Asked why in the world Trump would say such a thing given the circumstances, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC News yesterday, "[T]he president understands the challenges. The president deeply understands this. And we are working towards finding a path forward with Chairman Kim to denuclearize this country diplomatically."

For the record, Pompeo merely asserting that Trump "understands the challenges" does not necessarily mean that Trump understands the challenges.