President Donald Trump on Wednesday offered a non-committal response to North Korean threats to cancel his planned summit with Kim Jong Un, saying he hadn’t received any information that would put the talks in jeopardy.
“We haven’t been notified at all, we’ll have to see,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he was meeting his Uzbek counterpart. “We haven’t seen anything, we haven’t heard anything. We will see what happens.”
But pressed whether he would still insist upon North Korea’s denuclearization as a condition for the talks, Trump nodded yes.
South Korean officials have reacted with similar cool.
Since early March, when North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un told South Korean officials he would discuss denuclearizing his regime without pre-conditions, everyone has known at some point Little Rocket Man and his Pyongyang gang would wiggle and yelp –and possibly stall the process– with the goal of politically dividing Seoul and Washington.
Yesterday Kim Kye Gwan, North Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, wiggled and yelped as he “sharply criticized American officials – especially national security adviser John Bolton – for suggesting that Libya could be a template for denuclearizing North Korea.” Kim added that North Korea’s nuclear program is far more advanced than Libya’s nascent program.
That’s true. However, the vice minister’s complaint ignores several facts, which is a good indication it’s an agitation-propaganda ploy to try to get the Trump Administration to accept something less that complete denuclearization.
Vice Minister Kim attacked Bolton for telling the press that the technical process of denuclearizing North Korea will be very similar that used in Libya — access to sites, verification, removal and disposal of nuclear weapons material and manufacturing capabilities. Bolton also said the deal the Bush Administration struck with Libya is a “template” for the agreement Japan, South Korea and the U.S. seek with the North Korean dictatorship. Bolton expressed an informed opinion. North Korea went ballistic — so to speak.
The Vice Minister’s Complaint could be read as a freudian slip revealing paranoid Pyongyang’s deepest fear: an internal North Korean rebellion. We know Kim Jong Un fears rebellion and coup. He had his half-brother murdered after hearing rumors North Korean expats had asked Kim Jong Nam to help reform the Kim regime. Rebellion and coup connect to Libya. Remember, Libyan rebels killed Libya’s denuclearized dictator Muammar Gaddafi. If Gaddafi had possessed deliverable nukes he might have stopped foreign states from aiding the rebels, but maybe not. A dictator fighting off an internal rebellion is a distracted man. Threatening to nuke powerful states while battling a domestic coup gives the powerful states a great reason to launch an all out attack to eliminate those weapons.
North Korea is guilty of poor timing. The wiggle and yelp routine started too soon. Pyongyang should have waited a couple of more weeks before exhibiting totalitarian pique and threatening to scuttle the Trump-Kim talks.
Now the big question — who’ll be the first person to call the the talks The U.S. Dotard-Little Rocket Man Summit?