President Donald Trump needled North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in a tweet this weekend, giving him a new nickname that is sure to catch on.
“I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night,” Trump wrote on Sunday. “Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”
Trump’s mocking nickname for Kim comes after a weekend where the North Korean dictator stepped up his rhetoric against the United States and its allies. Through state media, the madman said that his regime was headed “full speed and straight” towards to goal of “completing its nuclear force.” Kim said that the ultimate goal would be to “establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S.,” which would, he insisted force the Trump administration into a position where it “dare not talk about the military option.”
The rhetoric is far from empty, of course. Not only has North Korea recently tested its largest nuclear weapon to date, it has fired two ballistic missile tests over Japanese territory within the last month. The last of these flew more than 2,300 miles – enough distance that it could have hit the U.S. territory of Guam in a theoretical first strike. Kim Jong Un has threatened Guam with a nuclear attack.
These overt provocations were accompanied by a Japanese newspaper report last week that revealed some even darker news about North Korea’s military progress. According to Sekai Nippo, the regime is in the middle of constructing a nuclear-powered submarine that would represent an alarming step forward for its naval capabilities. Such a submarine would give Pyongyang a much better chance to avoid radar detection, allowing them to expand their missile range well into international waters and pose an even greater threat to the U.S. mainland.
While the Trump administration continues to hope that increased economic pressure will bring Pyongyang to its knees, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said this weekend that the military option was still very much on the table. Asked by CNN what Trump meant with his “fire and fury” comments several weeks ago, Haley responded:
“You’d have to ask the president what fire and fury meant but we all know that basically, if North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed.”