Surprise — it doesn’t work for President Donald Trump to push for a change in global politics based solely on the supposed strength of his personality or something. This week, North Korea revealed that its dictator Kim Jong Un had presided over the test of a new tactical guided weapon that not much more is immediately known about. Trump has sought to woo Kim to his side — quite literally, claiming at one point the two of them “fell in love” — but it hasn’t stopped the small Pacific-bordering nation from maintaining its weapons capabilities all the same. There has been no denuclearization, despite all Trump’s posturing — although again, it’s unclear exactly what the North Koreans tested this week, although U.S. officials did not detect a missile launch.
North Korean state media shared:
‘Saying that the completion of the development of the weapon system serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army, [Kim] noted that it is a very good thing that the field of national defense science has waged a dynamic struggle for attaining core research goals… He pointed out that our national defense scientists and workers… performed another great work in increasing the country’s defense capabilities.’
Since the weapon is specifically claimed to have increased North Korea’s defense capabilities, it’s not exactly seemingly good news. They could already hit at least part of the United States. They tested a seemingly similar “ultramodern tactical weapon” late last year in the several months before Kim and Trump met in person a second time. That second summit ended with no signed agreement in the face of North Korean demands for sanctions relief that U.S. authorities were not ready to agree to.
Just this past weekend, Trump tweeted in support of the idea of a third summit after Kim suggested the possibility. Even as negotiations continued to show little sign of tangible progress, he went back to pointing to his personal relationship with the leader as if that will save the world from a nuclear winter. He asserted that their bond “remains very good” and “perhaps the term excellent would be even more accurate” as if the millions of people in the range of North Korean missiles care whether Trump is getting along with his perhaps most questionable pal.
Trump has pointed to their relationship as supposed reason for people to “stay calm” at another recent high-profile, substantive juncture. He withdrew sanctions targeting Chinese shipping companies that support the North Koreans because he “likes” Kim, as White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders put it.
Still, down in reality, concerning developments continue to emerge. The North Koreans have rebuilt a missile launch site that they’d previously dismantled, setting a deadline of the end of this year for negotiations with the West towards denuclearization. Trump has pointed to the lulls in missile tests as a success, but this issue has stretched back over decades with plenty of gaps far longer than what’s been seen under Trump.
He hasn’t proven to have a particular sensitivity to the needs of nuclear negotiations, withdrawing the United States from a treaty with Iran covering nuclear weapons without any apparent evidence that they were actually in violation.
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