I’m perpetually amazed at the sophistication of the North Koreans. They understand that National Security Advisor John Bolton is their enemy, one of the few people who will never be taken in by their games and their effort to stall things while they complete their intercontinental missile program.
But they also understand that President Trump often sours on his advisors. And so they have done all they can to entice him into a deal, as have others – he could win a Nobel Peace Prize! – and now they are suggesting that bad old Bolton could ruin everything.
From the Wall Street Journal:
North Korea’s warnings that it would cancel a June summit if Washington insists on rapid disarmament highlight the depth of the division between the two sides in denuclearization talks.
In a statement carried by North Korean state media, a senior diplomat, Kim Kye Gwan, expressed “indignation” and said Pyongyang wasn’t interested in trading its weapons for economic assistance.
The North Korean statement focused its ire on Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, who has called for Pyongyang to turn over its nuclear arsenal to the U.S. and commit to “irreversible” disarmament.
It cautioned Mr. Trump that if he follows Mr. Bolton’s lead, “he will be recorded as more tragic and unsuccessful president than his predecessors, far from his ambition to make unprecedented success.”
“The overwhelming focus on Bolton, rather than U.S. President Donald Trump, is a possible attempt to drive a wedge” between the two, said Miha Hribernik, a Beijing-based analyst for Verisk Maplecroft, a risk consultancy.
“If the hard-line adviser is sidelined during future talks, Pyongyang may be able to persuade Trump to step back from demands for unilateral disarmament and walk away with a media-friendly compromise deal,” Mr. Hribernik said.
Smart tactic. But I still think Trump gets what’s going on, and that he likes winning more than he wants a deal. And North Korea with a nuclear weapon that can hit the United States is losing. Bigly.