Kim Jong Un Calls the Shots

Thomas Dobbs, Reporter

News Analysis

On September 9, 2018, North Korea held a traditional military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of their founding as a showcase to the world of their increasing military might. To the delight of President Trump, Kim Jong Un opted to conceal their Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) from the parade.  These include several missiles suspected to be capable of reaching distances as far as the United States.  

President Trump believes Kim Jong Un’s meaningless gesture is a real step towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, even congratulating the North Korean Leader via Twitter, citing their “friendship” in an unintentionally hilarious tweet.

Thank you To Chairman Kim,” Trump said. “We will both prove everyone wrong! There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other! Much better than before I took office.” Each time the United States applies economic or military pressure to North Korea, Kim Jong Un responds by flattering and influencing our president. Like clockwork, Trump halts the pressure on North Korea and finds a way to brag about himself.

For example, before the highly-anticipated Singapore summit in June between Trump and Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency criticized Vice President Mike Pence. Although Trump originally canceled the meeting, he recommitted after the delivery of a personal letter from Kim Jong Un. While the Singapore summit was a diplomatic breakthrough in terms of the first-ever meeting between the leaders of North Korea and the United States, the meeting did not establish any tangible plan towards denuclearization.

After reports of North Korea’s failure to initiate denuclearization, American officials threatened to halt negotiations with the rogue nation. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, canceled a trip to North Korea in August. Pompeo attributed North Korea’s underwhelming effort towards denuclearization as the main cause of his canceled visit. In response, Kim, approached Trump to resume negotiations.

Consequently, Trump boasted to the American public that Kim had “said some terrific things about me” and proceeded to lessen critical rhetoric and reopen negotiations. During the same rally, Trump stated, “He [Kim] said very strongly that we want to denuclearize North Korea during President Trump’s tenure.”

Trump’s comments again lie in stark contrast to U.S. intelligence agencies’ statements. Through the use of satellites, U.S intelligence gathers that although North Korea is not testing weapons, they continue to develop their nuclear arsenal. Adam Mount, director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists, declared, “Even as talks have ground to a halt, every indication is that research and development of nuclear-capable systems [are] continuing.”

Kim Jong Un has shown the world that he has no intention of ending his quest to accumulate nuclear weapons. Trump continues to disregard facts concerning North Korea and easily, when faced with flattery, forgets the ultimate goal: denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

According to The Washington Post, certain foreign policy analysts warn, “Kim’s goal is to convince Trump to sign onto a deal that would declare a formal end to the Korean War, without giving up significant concessions.” Disastrously, Kim has been given the perfect opportunity to accomplish his goals.