January 04, 2018 13:18
U.S. President Donald Trump responded to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's offer of inter-Korean dialogue by tweeting, "Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not -- we will see!" But that was before he was apparently belatedly briefed about Kim's New Year's address and flew into a tizzy over Kim's boast of a "nuclear button" in his office.
His own nuclear button, Trump boasted, is "much bigger & more powerful." So much for harmony between the allies after President Moon Jae-in here said he "welcomes" Kim's offer of talks.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson also distanced his government from any talks with North Korea, saying "it is their choice" if North and South Korea wish to hold them.
Earlier, Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyon claimed Seoul is in "close consultation" with Washington over Pyongyang's proposal, but somehow that failed to manifest itself in any coordination of their public pronouncements. That sort of shambles is exactly what Kim wanted to achieve. His New Year's address was carefully calibrated as a noisy threat to the U.S., whose "entire mainland" he claimed is in reach of his nuclear weapons, and cozying up to South Korea, with the aim of driving a wedge between the allies.
But the government is too giddy over Kim's offer to send athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang to worry about the threat of nuclear war he uttered in almost the same breath.
It is just as the high-level North Korean defector Thae Yong-ho warned. North Korea is seeking to get out from under international sanctions by threatening the U.S., paying respect to China, and throwing a carrot at South Korea, the weakest link in the chain. Kim has no intention of giving up his nuclear program. All he wants is to buy time so he can complete his nuclear arms development, and his strategy is to sow a rift among the allies.
Things seem to be going just as he planned. Moon has talked about being "in the driver's seat" in inter-Korean affairs. But it seems obvious who is leading whom by the nose.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com