President Trump, who has taken such a hard-headed approach to so many issues, is stuck in a land of happy talk on the most critical one facing us, the ongoing expansion of the North Korean nuclear weapons and nuclear missile program.
Kim Jong-un has played the author of the “Art of the Deal” masterfully, making a false show of friendship and cooperation that Trump immediately embraced.
Meanwhile, Trump claims progress because missiles are not being tested, even though their development expands. And he says we have all the time in the world while sanctions harm North Korea, even as North Korea has already proved itself impervious to such steps and the sanctions are undermined by Russia and China.
Let’s be clear. Once North Korea can credibly hit Chicago with a nuclear weapon, we are Kim Jong-un’s hostages. He can conduct his foreign policy with the confidence that we are unable to take decisive action against him.
What’s more, as in all nuclear standoffs, the possibility of a mistake or miscalculation is always present. Particularly with a backward country whose elite troops have intestines, and perhaps brains, filled with worms.
A North Korea with nuclear-tipped ICBMs is simply unacceptable. And yet Trump is allowing them to progress toward this goal. He took a hard line at first, and then fell for the usual North Korea nonsense about cooperation, which is always a tactic to buy time. Which is successfully being purchased.
According to the New York Times:
North Korea is moving ahead with its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases that have been identified in new commercial satellite images, a network long known to American intelligence agencies but left undiscussed as President Trump claims to have neutralized the North’s nuclear threat.
The satellite images suggest that the North has been engaged in a great deception: It has offered to dismantle a major launching site — a step it began, then halted — while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads.
The existence of the ballistic missile bases, which North Korea has never acknowledged, contradicts Mr. Trump’s assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination of a nuclear and missile program that the North had warned could devastate the United States.
“We are in no rush,” Mr. Trump said of talks with the North at a news conference on Wednesday, after Republicans lost control of the House. “The sanctions are on. The missiles have stopped. The rockets have stopped. The hostages are home.”
His statement was true in just one sense. Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to the halt of missile flight tests, which have not occurred in nearly a year. But American intelligence officials say that the North’s production of nuclear material, of new nuclear weapons and of missiles that can be placed on mobile launchers and hidden in mountains at the secret bases has continued.
And the sanctions are collapsing, in part because North Korea has leveraged its new, softer-sounding relationship with Washington, and its stated commitment to eventual denuclearization, to resume trade with Russia and China.
Hey John Bolton, where are you?