Donald Trump downplays renewed nuclear threats from North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
President Donald Trump played down rhetorical attacks from Kim Jong Un as the end-of-the-year holidays passed Wednesday without any new nuclear tests in North Korea – but with threats of future ones.
“If the U.S. persists in its hostile policy toward the DPRK (North Korea), there will never be the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula,” the Korean Central News Agency said, quoting Kim as he announced he no longer feels bound by a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing.
Trump, speaking with reporters at his annual New Year’s Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, said he still has “a very good relationship” with Kim, with whom he has met three times.
“He likes me, I like him, we get along,” Trump said, adding: “He did sign an agreement talking about denuclearization. … I think he’s a man of his word, so we’re going to find out.”
In announcing that his moratorium on nuclear testing is no longer operative, Kim also told a meeting of ruling party officials in North Korea he would unveil a “new strategic weapon” in the near future, the state news agency said. Kim had given the United States an end-of-the-year deadline to reduce economic sanctions on his country or face the prospect of new nuclear tests.
“The DPRK will steadily develop necessary and prerequisite strategic weapons for the security of the state until the U.S. rolls back its hostile policy,” the Korean Central News Agency reported Kim as saying.
Trump administration officials had feared such a test during the holiday – a North Korea official had threatened a “Christmas gift” to the U.S. – but nothing had happened as midnight passed in North Korea.
In speaking with reporters, Trump joked that he hoped Kim’s “Christmas present” was “a beautiful vase … as opposed to something else.”
Trump remains hopeful of a denuclearization agreement with North Korea, though critics say Kim’s government has continued to develop nuclear programs even after the two leaders signed a document at their first summit in June of 2018. The two men also met in 2019 in Vietnam and at the North Korea-South Korea border.
While Trump often cites the Singapore agreement as a hopeful sign, critics pointed out that it was nonspecific and nonbinding when it came to North Korea giving up nuclear weapons.
“Kim signed nothing binding regarding nukes or missiles. No Kim ever has,” tweeted Robert E. Kelly, professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea.
He added: “And Republicans used to know that the Kims shouldn’t be trusted. But now the GOP’s a cult of personality, right? So if the great leader says it’s true, it must be so.”