(ATTN: RECASTS to RAISE Trump's authorization of bomb use in Afghanistan)
By Chang Jae-soon
WASHINGTON, April 13 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump pledged again Thursday to take care of the problem of North Korea after authorizing the dropping of the largest U.S. non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan in a move sure to serve as a warning to Pyongyang.
The U.S. military announced that it used the GBU-43B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb to strike an Islamic State (IS) tunnel complex. It was the first time that the 21,000-pound bomb, also known as as "Mother Of All Bombs," has been used in battle.
The bombing came as tensions are running high on the Korean Peninsula amid fears that the communist North could go ahead with its sixth nuclear test this weekend to mark the birthday of the North's late founder and grandfather of leader Kim Jong-un.
The U.S. Pacific Command has already redirected a massive aircraft carrier strike group led by USS Carl Vinson to waters off the Korean Peninsula in a show of force aimed at warning Pyongyang against provocations.
Asked if the first use of the massive bomb is designed to send a message to North Korea, Trump said, "I don't know if this sends a message. It doesn't make any difference if it does or not. North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of."
"I think China has really been working very hard. I have really gotten delight and respect, as you know, President Xi is a terrific person. We spent a lot of time together in Florida and he is a very special man. So we'll see how he does. I think he's going to try very hard," Trump said during a White House meeting with first responders.
Earlier in the day, Trump also said he's confident China will rein in the North.
"I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A.," Trump said in a Twitter message.
It was the latest in a series of remarks that Trump has made in recent days to call for China to exercise its influence as the main food and energy provider for the impoverished North to stop the regime from additional provocations.
On Wednesday, Trump said during a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that the way for China to get a good trade deal is to help the U.S. with the North.
Trump also said that China appears to have already started working to increase pressure on the North, citing Beijing's decision to return shipments of coal imports from North Korea back to the country. Trump called the decision a "big step."
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump also said that he decided not to designate China as a currency manipulator because it could endanger his efforts to enlist Chinese help in dealing with North Korea.
At the same time, Trump also warned of the possibility of military action against the North.
"We are sending an armada, very powerful," Trump said in an interview with Fox Business aired Wednesday, referring to the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group, in an an apparent warning against the North undertaking provocations.
"We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you. And we have the best military people on Earth," Trump said. "And I will say this. He is doing the wrong thing ... He's making a big mistake."
Asked what he was going to do with the North, Trump said he doesn't reveal those things.
"I'm not like Obama," Trump said, criticizing his predecessor for announcing his plans to strike the Iraqi city of Mosul in the fight against the militant group Islamic State so as to give adversaries enough time to get prepared for the strikes.
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