North Korea

Trump Called Kim a ‘Madman’

President Trump labeled North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un a “madman with nuclear weapons” during a private phone conversation with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte last month, just days before stating publicly that he would be “honored” to meet with Kim, the Washington Post reports.

Trump sought Duterte’s input on whether Kim is “stable or not stable” and expressed some satisfaction in North Korea’s recent failed missile tests, noting that “all his rockets are crashing. That’s the good news.”

Trump Says He Would Meet North Korea’s Leader

President Trump told Bloomberg that he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid heightened tensions over his country’s nuclear weapons program if the circumstances were right.

Said Trump: “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it. If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.”

Trump Calls North Korea’s Dictator a ‘Smart Cookie’

When asked for his opinion of North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, President Trump told Face the Nation that, “I really, you know, have no comment on him.”

Then he gave an extensive comment.

Said Trump: “People are saying, ‘Is he sane?’ I have no idea. I can tell you this, and a lot of people don’t like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others. And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”

North Korea Defies Trump

“Hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for tough new action towards North Korea on Friday, the nuclear-armed dictatorship thumbed its nose at the Trump administration with the latest in a series of missile tests that Trump officials say could provoke a military conflict,” Politico reports.

“The test’s timing implied an act of calculated defiance by North Korea’s 33-year-old leader Kim Jong Un. It came a day before President Donald Trump’s 100-day mark and less than 24 hours after Trump warned of the potential for a ‘major, major conflict’ over Kim’s expanding nuclear capability.”

“The message seemed to be that two weeks of saber-rattling — which included military deployments and a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to the North Korean border ‘so they can see our resolve in my face’ — had failed to intimidate Kim.”

Kasich Advises ‘Surgical Strike’ In North Korea

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that President Trump ought to “eradicate” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his top lieutenants in a surgical military strike designed to give rise to a more benign leadership in Pyongyang, the Washington Post reports.

“Kasich stopped short of explicitly recommending that U.S. forces assassinate North Korea’s leaders, but what he described would be a military and intelligence exercise.”

The Challenge of Containing Kim Jung Un

The Economist: “For all his eccentricities, Mr Kim is behaving rationally. He watched Muammar Qadaffi of Libya give up his nuclear program in return for better relations with the West—and end up dead. He sees his nuclear arsenal as a guarantee that his regime, and he, will survive. (Though it would be suicidal for him to use it.) Mr Trump can do little to change his mind. Economic sanctions that harm his people will not spoil his lunch. Cyber-attacks, which may account for the failure of some recent missile launches, can slow but not stop him. America can solve the Korean conundrum only with China’s help.”

“China has leverage over Mr Kim. It accounts for 85% of North Korea’s foreign trade and could shut off its oil supply. But its interests are not the same as America’s. North Korea is its ally. China’s leaders do not like the Kim regime, but they do not wish to see it collapse and North Korea reunite, German-style, with the democratic South. That, China fears, would mean the loss of a valuable buffer. There are 28,500 American troops stationed in the South; China does not want them on its border.”

North Korea Warns of ‘Super-Mighty Preemptive Strike’

North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear program, Reuters reports.

Said the statement: “In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes.”

North Korea Images Show Volleyball, Not Nuclear Tests

“U.S. experts who have been forecasting an imminent North Korean nuclear test said on Tuesday they were surprised when they viewed their latest satellite images of the country’s nuclear test site and saw volleyball games under way,” Reuters reports.

“With tension mounting between Pyongyang and Washington, analysts had thought they would see activity suggesting preparations for an underground explosion at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and were not expecting what the photos, taken on Sunday by a commercial satellite, revealed.”

Aircraft Carrier Wasn’t Sailing to Deter North Korea

“As worries deepened last week about whether North Korea would conduct a missile test, the White House declared that ordering an American aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal and give President Trump more options in responding to the North’s provocative behavior,” the New York Times reports.

“The problem was, the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the four other warships in its strike force were at that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula.”

Pence Threatens North Korea with Military Action

“Vice President Pence warned North Korea Monday that it could be in for the same treatment as Syria and Afghanistan – both of which the Trump administration has bombed this month – if it continues with its nuclear program,” the Washington Post reports.

“The stark warning, delivered in Seoul after the vice president went to the military demarcation that separates the two Koreas, could revive speculation that the White House is considering military action against the regime in Pyongyang.”

New York Times: “A Cuban Missile Crisis in Slow Motion”

Trump Stays Quiet After Latest North Korea Provocation

“The president was uncharacteristically quiet after North Korea’s latest failed missile launch, leaving it to his team of deputies, as well as Vice President Pence to articulate the administration’s policy toward the totalitarian regime,” the Washington Post reports.

Wall Street Journal: “In the wake of Pyongyang’s failed missile test over the weekend, Trump administration officials stepped up pressure on Beijing, saying the threat has reached an inflection point that demands new urgency.”