President Donald Trump ratcheted up the rhetoric on North Korea once again Friday morning, after suggesting Thursday that his threat to bring “fire and fury like the world has never seen” to the rogue nation was not a sufficient deterrent.
“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” Trump declared in a tweet early Friday morning. “Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2017
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell, told MSNBC he was more concerned about Trump’s rhetoric than the threat of a nuclear North Korea. The threat is real, however.
The escalation began with unanimous UN sanctions over the weekend, which U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley convinced both Russia and China to agree to. North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, responded angrily to the sanctions on Tuesday, promising “thousands-fold” revenge against the U.S. in retaliation.
Early on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported an Intelligence Community assessment that “North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles.”
Trump responded powerfully to this news, warning that if North Korea made “any more threats to the United States … they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
Kim Jong Un did respond with more threats Tuesday evening, however. The North Korean army threatened to strike Guam.
“The KPA [Korean People’s Army] Strategic Force is now carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium-to-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in order to contain the U.S. major military bases on Guam,” a KPA spokesman declared. If current reports are accurate, that ICBM may carry a nuclear warhead.
The Tuesday threat warned that such a strike may come at any time. “The plan … will be put into practice in a multi-concurrent and consecutive way any moment once Kim Jong Un … makes a decision,” the statement read (emphasis added).
What is perhaps most threatening about this entire situation is that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) already knew about North Korea’s mini nukes — in 2013! President Obama not only downplayed the report then, but he attempted to discredit it. The media complied.
Naturally, President Bill Clinton struck a nuclear deal with North Korea, essentially enabling the entire process, despite knowing how determined Kim Jong Il was to create a nuclear weapon, even to the point of starving his own people.
Trump’s strategy is different — air out the truth, warn the American people, and alter the media. But Kim Jon Un has not been deterred.
Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control and nuclear arms expert who has been following the North Korean nuclear program for decades, warned in Foreign Policy magazine that North Korea may have already won the nuclear baiting game.
“There is no credible military option,” Lewis wrote. “North Korea has some unknown number of nuclear-armed missiles, maybe 60, including ones that can reach the United States; do you really think U.S. strikes could get all of them? That not a single one would survive to land on Seoul, Tokyo, or New York? Or that U.S. missile defenses would work better than designed, intercepting not most of the missiles aimed at the United States, but every last one of them? Are you willing to bet your life on that?”
It is important to remember that conventional weapons can be just as deadly as nuclear weapons — although they are less traumatic and their damage is arguably less long-lasting.
The nuclear threat from North Korea is real and terrifying. Trump says “military solutions are now fully in place,” and Americans must hope he is correct. Their lives might depend on it.