Nuclear button is always on my desk – that’s the New Year 2018 message from Kim Jong-un to Donald Trump. The North Korean leader also warned United States – “The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat.” But that wasn’t the only Kim’s reminder to Trump.
Dictator Kim declared that North Korea had reached full nuclear force in 2017 and called for the mass-production of nukes and missiles in the year ahead – “We achieved the goal of completing our state nuclear force in 2017. We need to mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and accelerate their deployment.” Was the badass bluffing?
The fact that President Trump has on numerous occasions sent not one, not two, but three powerful super-carriers such as the U.S. Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 1 (CSG1) led by Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz to surround North Korea but without any military strike means the North has indeed the necessary nuclear weapons.
Kim’s New Year message, aside from telling Trump that he could launch a nuclear ballistic missile quicker than the U.S. president could enter his “nuclear football” codes, also offers a peaceful proposition to the world community. Calling for improved relations with South Korea, Mr. Kim said he was “open to dialogue” with Seoul, something unthinkable just 2 days ago before the New Year.
Wearing a Western-style gray suit and tie, Kim Jong-un used his televised New Year’s Day speech to declare his country “a peace-loving and responsible nuclear power”, apparently declaring – “When it comes to North-South relations, we should lower the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula to create a peaceful environment. Both the North and the South should make efforts.”
To prove his so-called sincere offer, Kim said he would consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February – “North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the national pride and we wish the Games will be a success. Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility.”
South Korea, which has been spooked by a possibility of more missile tests during the coming February Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang, said it welcomed Kim’s offer and can now breathe a sigh of relief. Like it or not, it appears that the North has demonstrated it is a better chess player in the political manoeuvre against both the U.S. and South Korea.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who took office last May pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue, couldn’t be happier. He said North Korea’s participation would ensure the safety of the Olympics. In fact, Mr. Moon proposed last month that Seoul and Washington postpone large military drills that the North denounces as a rehearsal for war until after the Games.
Lee Hee-beom, president of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, said it welcomed North Korean participation and would “discuss relevant matters with the South Korean government as well as the International Olympic Committee.” However, Washington isn’t happy, let alone impressed with the hermit kingdom’s peace offering.
United States, understandable, saw Kim’s New Year speech as an attempt to divide Seoul from its primary ally, Washington, which has led an international campaign to pressure North Korea through sanctions to give up its nuclear weapons programs. Obviously, it was quite a clever tactical move by Kim Jong-un to have his cake and eat it too.
Now that the offer for peace is on the table, President Moon is caught between meeting South Koreans’ thirst for peace and Americans’ agenda for continuous pressure on the North. More importantly, Kim’s willingness to engage with outside world means it’s harder for Trump to justify a pre-emptive military strike, if there was one at the Pentagon to begin with.
The hermit kingdom’s sudden U-turn – willingness to talk – is a healthy sign which would be welcomed by the world, with the exception of Trump administration, of course. The U.S. would certainly view such a dialogue with highly suspicion but unfortunately, the country may be alone on this. Previously, a roundtable meeting wasn’t possible due to war of words between Trump and Kim.
You may not like his hairstyle but badass Kim Jong-un has once again outsmarted Donald Trump. The North Korean leader deliberately divides his speech into 2 parts – a peace talk offer to South Korea and a nuclear retaliation to the U.S. It was designed in such way to prevent Trump from claiming credit (arguably his favourite past time) for a possible North-South dialogue.
Even if President Moon knew it was nothing but a North Korea drama, it’s hard to imagine how he could resist meeting Dictator Kim no matter how hard the U.S. may advised him otherwise. It could be a trap. It could be a drama. It could be an excuse. Regardless of hidden reasons Kim offers his olive branch to fellow Koreans under the pretext of spirit of Olympic Games, the dictator has won – again!
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