According to experts both inside and outside the Trump administration, there is a significant difference from the public tone coming from the White House on North Korea and the behind-the-scenes friction between the United States and Pyongyang. In recent weeks, President Trump has said several optimistic, positive things about Kim Jong Un and his vow to denuclearize on highly public forums. Last week alone, the president thanked the dictator for vowing “unwavering faith” in Trump and confirming that he was looking to get rid of his nuclear arsenal by the end of Trump’s first term.
“We will get it done together,” said the president.
And when, this weekend, North Korea declined to roll out their nuclear missiles for their annual Foundation Day military parade, Trump praised Kim Jong Un for his restraint.
“We will both prove everyone wrong,” he said of himself and the North Korean leader. “There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other!”
This kind of public praise gets under the skin of just about anyone who knows what Kim Jong Un really is – a collection of individuals that includes, well, everyone in the world. Which, of course, includes President Trump. He is well aware that he is dealing with a dangerous monster; the praise and the rhetoric are part of a strategy. And this is especially obvious in light of the fact that, behind the cameras, the Trump administration is exerting mighty pressure on the regime to give up their weapons…or else.
Privately, sources inside the administration say, the president is losing patience with the dictator and his failure to take concrete action towards the goal. And this will not be improved by reports out this week that there is evidence emerging from satellite imagery that shows that North Korea is moving weapons around in an effort to hide from surveillance.
“The newest intelligence shows Kim’s regime has escalated efforts to conceal its nuclear activity, according to three senior U.S. officials,” reports NBC News. “During the three months since the historic Singapore summit and Trump’s proclamation that North Korea intends to denuclearize, North Korea has built structures to obscure the entrance to at least one warhead storage facility, according to the officials.”
President Trump took a huge political risk by meeting with Kim Jong Un this summer; if he is repaid for that gambit by more Pyongyang games, the “fire and fury” threats of last year could return. Indeed, they could quickly become more than just threats. North Korea has a unique opportunity to turn their backs on the warmongering of the past and actually join the international stage as a real player.
The alternative is not to go back to the status quo – the alternative is decimation. Kim Jong Un had better decide quickly which path he prefers.