North Korea

North Korea Backs Off Guam Missile Threat

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has decided not to launch a threatened missile attack on Guam, Pyongyang’s state media reported, but warned that he could change his mind “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Mr. Kim added that the planned launch could still be carried out at any moment, and said that such a strike would be a “most delightful historic moment” that would “wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks.”

Guam Prepares for Possible Missile Threat

Guam Homeland Security issued a new fact sheet, which the agency says will help residents prepare for an imminent missile threat, the Pacific Daily News reports.

The advice includes tips such as: “Do not look at the flash or fireball – It can blind you” and “Take cover behind anything that might offer protection.”

Also: “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”

Graham Says Trump Is Willing to Strike North Korea

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told radio host Hugh Hewitt that while President Trump said he would try to negotiate with North Korea, he is very “willing to abandon strategic patience and use preemption. I think he’s there mentally. He has told me this.”

Said Graham: “I wish a Democrat would take their hatred of Donald Trump and park it…because of everyone else’s failure, he’s run out of the ability to kick the can down the road.”

Don’t Double Dare Kim

Dennis Wilder, former special assistant to George W. Bush for East Asian affairs, quoted by the Cipher Brief:

The key thing now is President Trump has got to realize that Kim Jung-un is a man who can be provoked by words, and therefore, be careful with what you put out there. There is danger that he can be provoked into steps. And, remember that Kim was behind the sinking of the Cheonan. We know the South Koreans have had quite good public statements on this, we know that Kim himself was involved in the decision to sink the South Korean warship.

This is a guy who will take those kinds of actions to demonstrate his toughness. You want to think hard about — again, I use a kid’s “I double dare” you sort of language, “I triple dare you,” you know, all that stuff. I just don’t think that’s mature foreign policy.

Trump Still Has No Ambassador to South Korea

BuzzFeed News: “For months, national security experts have warned that the large number of unfilled positions at the State Department risked putting the United States in jeopardy in the event of a crisis. Now, with North Korea threatening war and a new US intelligence finding that Pyongyang has succeeded in miniaturizing a nuclear bomb, a crisis has arrived, and President Trump has yet to name a US ambassador to South Korea.”

“The personnel gap comes amid confusing signals out of Washington — at a time when one of America’s most important and vulnerable allies is seeking clarity and instruction.”

For members: Diplomacy Is the Only Option for North Korea

Trump’s Threat to North Korea Was Improvised

President Trump delivered his “fire and fury” threat to North Korea “with arms folded, jaw set and eyes flitting on what appeared to be a single page of talking points set before him on the conference table at his New Jersey golf resort,” the New York Times reports.

“The piece of paper, as it turned out, was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis he had come to talk about, and his ominous warning to Pyongyang was entirely improvised… In discussions with advisers beforehand, he had not run the specific language by them.”

Jonathan Chait: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis have issued more normal-sounding statements intended to supersede the president’s improvised one… The message of this cleanup is that Trump’s statements do not necessarily represent the position of the U.S. government – a reality most American political elites in both parties already recognize, but which needs to be made clear to other countries that are unaccustomed to treating their head of state like a random Twitter troll.”

The Most Dangerous Moment of Trump’s Presidency

Rick Klein: “The North Koreans did what the North Koreans do, and then President Trump…did what the North Koreans do, too. Trump’s new line is not just red – it’s fiery and furious and now closer than ever to being crossed, since the president’s warning applies to further threats, not just actions.”

“Perhaps it was a strategic attempt to speak in a manner Kim Jong Un would understand. The president said ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’ and then repeated much of that phrase. But for all Trump’s inconsistencies, one major theme of his critique of his predecessor was on not following through on threats. This – ‘power, the likes of which this world has never seen before’ – is a doozy in that category.”

“We know, or we think we know, the president doesn’t like to convey weakness. We know almost nothing about what Kim Jong Un is thinking. In any event, this might be a good time to have a president who enjoys the trust of the American people and the lawmakers he serves with.”

Guam Officials Downplay North Korea Threat

“Amid new threats of a ballistic missile strike on Guam from North Korea, Guam’s Homeland Security office Wednesday said there is no imminent threat to the island and the Marianas region,” the Pacific Daily News reports.

“Based on communications with military and federal officials, Gov. Eddie Calvo said there’s no change in the threat level to Guam, and he encouraged the public to remain calm.”

Mike Allen: “Of all the dumb things North Korea says, the idea of threatening Guam is one of the dumber.”

Said one insider: “Makes no sense. Attacking anywhere is a suicide mission for the regime. U.S. retaliation would be devastating and complete. Most Korea experts would tell you that if they are going to take their one shot, it will be at a more populated and emotionally connected target.”

North Korea Threatens to Strike Guam

North Korea said it is “carefully examining” a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles, just hours after President Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury,” Reuters reports.

A spokesman for the Korean People’s Army said the strike plan will be “put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment” once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision.

McCain Says Trump Erred in Threat to North Korea

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told KTAR that President Trump’s threat to rain “fire and fury” down on North Korea was a mistake.

Said McCain: “I take exception to the President’s comments because you gotta be able to do what you say you’re gonna do. In other words, the old walk softly but carry a big stick, Teddy Roosevelt’s saying, which I think is something that should’ve applied because all it’s going to do is bring us closer to a serious confrontation. I think this is very, very, very serious.”

He added: “The great leaders I’ve seen don’t threaten unless they’re ready to act and I’m not sure President Trump is ready to act… It’s the classic Trump in that he overstates things.”

Trump Issues Threat to North Korea

President Trump issued a stern warning to North Korea, saying that if its threats to the United States continue, the outcast nation will be “met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump comments came as North Korea spurned a new round of sanctions approved by the United Nations Security Council and pledged to continue to press forward with development of nuclear weapons that could reach the U.S. mainland.”

North Korea Now Making Missile-Ready Nukes

“North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power,” the Washington Post reports.

“The new analysis completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country’s atomic arsenal. The U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts believe the number of bombs is much smaller.”

How to Avoid Nuclear War with North Korea

The Economist: “If military action is reckless and diplomacy insufficient, the only remaining option is to deter and contain Mr Kim. Mr Trump should make clear — in a scripted speech, not a tweet or via his secretary of state—that America is not about to start a war, nuclear or conventional.”

“However, he should reaffirm that a nuclear attack by North Korea on America or one of its allies will immediately be matched. Mr Kim cares about his own skin. He enjoys the life of a dissolute deity, living in a palace and with the power to kill or bed any of his subjects. If he were to unleash a nuclear weapon, he would lose his luxuries and his life. So would his cronies. That means they can be deterred.”