Coun­ter­ing bom­bast from North Korea

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Don­ald Lam­bro Don­ald Lam­bro is a syn­di­cated colum­nist and con­trib­u­tor to The Wash­ing­ton Times.

‘The regime’s ac­tions will con­tinue to be over­matched by ours and would lose any arms race or con­flict it ini­ti­ates’

The es­ca­lat­ing ex­change of nu­clear threats be­tween North Korea and the United States has pushed us closer to the brink of war. Re­cent clas­si­fied re­ports by U.S. in­tel­li­gence, based on spy satel­lite sur­veil­lance, now re­veals that the Com­mu­nist na­tion has suc­cess­fully de­vel­oped a minia­tur­ized nu­clear war­head that can be fit­ted on top of an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile ca­pa­ble of reach­ing our coun­try.

North Korea, pun­ished by a se­vere new round of U.S.-led eco­nomic sanc­tions, ap­proved this week by the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, de­scribed the ac­tion as an at­tempt to bring down its coun­try.

Es­pe­cially the ban on ex­ports that pro­vide up to a third of North Korea’s yearly $3 bil­lion in earn­ings.

Such sanc­tions, the gov­ern­ment said, were an at­tempt “to stran­gle a na­tion,” warn­ing the U.S. that “phys­i­cal ac­tion will be taken mer­ci­lessly with the mo­bi­liza­tion of all its na­tional strength.”

Pres­i­dent Trump, on a 17-day work­ing va­ca­tion at his golf course in Bed­min­ster, N.J., shot back a fiery re­ply Tues­day, warn­ing North Korea that it would face a dev­as­tat­ing re­sponse if it con­tin­ued to threaten the U.S.

“They will be met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen be­fore,” he said.

Be­fore this ex­change took place, Mr. Trump’s sec­re­tary of State, Rex Tiller­son, at­tempted to defuse the deep­en­ing con­flict by send­ing a re­mark­able peace of­fer­ing to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“We do not seek a regime change, we do not seek a col­lapse of the regime, we do not seek an ac­cel­er­ated re­uni­fi­ca­tion of the peninsula, we do not seek an ex­cuse to send our mil­i­tary north of the 38th Par­al­lel,” he said last week.

“We are try­ing to con­vey to the North Kore­ans: We are not your en­emy, we are not your threat,” he added.

Mr. Tiller­son’s calm-the-wa­ters state­ment was widely cred­ited for clear­ing the way for both China and Rus­sia to em­brace the sanc­tions, though it had no ef­fect on Kim.

But maybe Mr. Tiller­son’s re­marks were re­ally aimed at an end-run around Mr. Trump in a vain at­tempt to send a more diplo­matic mes­sage to the North Korean leader.

The Reuters news agency’s lead story Wed­nes­day on Mr. Trump’s blis­ter­ing warn­ing to Mr. Kim sug­gested that was the case:

“Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son played down Pres­i­dent Trump’s in­cen­di­ary warn­ing to North Korea Wed­nes­day, say­ing he was just try­ing to send a strong mes­sage in lan­guage its leader would un­der­stand,” the news ser­vice said.

While Mr. Trump was telling Mr. Kim that if he wanted a fight, the U.S. was ready to give him one, Mr. Tiller­son was singing a dif­fer­ent tune.

Speak­ing to re­porters shortly be­fore land­ing in Guam, the U.S. Pa­cific is­land ter­ri­tory Py­ongyang threat­ens to strike, Mr. Tiller­son said he did not be­lieve “there was an im­mi­nent threat from North Korea,” Reuters re­ported.

“I think Amer­i­cans should sleep well at night, have no con­cerns about this par­tic­u­lar rhetoric of the last few days,” he said.

But in case any­one as­sumed he was leav­ing the Trump reser­va­tion on for­eign pol­icy, Mr. Tiller­son main­tained that “what the pres­i­dent was just reaf­firm­ing is that the United States has the ca­pa­bil­ity to fully de­fend it­self from any at­tack and our al­lies, and we will do so.”

“So … what the pres­i­dent is do­ing is send­ing a strong mes­sage to North Korea in lan­guage that Kim Jongun would un­der­stand, be­cause he doesn’t seem to un­der­stand diplo­matic lan­guage,” he said.

Soon af­ter Mr. Tiller­son’s re­marks, Mr. Trump re­in­forced his warn­ing to Py­ongyang in a Twit­ter post with an­other not-so-veiled warn­ing about the new and much im­proved U.S. nu­clear weapons ar­se­nal.

“My first or­der as pres­i­dent was to ren­o­vate and mod­ern­ize our nu­clear ar­se­nal. It is now far stronger and more pow­er­ful than ever be­fore,” he said.

In an­other state­ment, De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis also sent a blunt mes­sage to North Korea Wed­nes­day, urg­ing its gov­ern­ment to “stop any ac­tion that would lead to the end of its regime.”

He added, “The regime’s ac­tions will con­tinue to be over­matched by ours and would lose any arms race or con­flict it ini­ti­ates.”

Mean­time, it is in­ter­est­ing that through­out this war of words with North Korea, there has been no men­tion of our anti-bal­lis­tic mis­sile ar­se­nal that can de­stroy any in­com­ing ICBMs be­fore they can strike their tar­get.

Kim Jong-un bet­ter think long and hard about that be­fore he makes an­other boast­ful claim about his mil­i­tary su­pe­ri­or­ity.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY HUNTER

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