Donald Trump is being played for a fool by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, says North Korean defector Thae Yong Ho. The former ambassador to the United Kingdom says that Kim is playing Trump so well that eventually there will be no U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula, while Kim will have nuclear weapons, the Daily Beast is reporting.
Thae, who with the help of the British defected along with his family, was at one time a high-ranking diplomat in the North Korean regime, so he knows as well as anyone what goes on behind the scenes in Pyongyang. And he’s clear about the famed negotiations between Trump and Kim. Though portrayed by Trump as historic efforts to denuclearize the North and bring peace to the Korean peninsula, Thae says the Singapore Summit, the ongoing peace negotiations between the two, and the upcoming Hanoi summit are all simply ploys designed to give Kim exactly what he wants — no U.S. troops in South Korea and an arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Trump fell into a “trap,” says Thae.
While Kim is seen as a brutal dictator, he is also perceived as a master of manipulation, having convinced his people that nuclear war with the United States is inevitable. To that end, his regime has been aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons, despite sanctions, threats, and negotiations from the West. There’s a reason for that — the desperately-poor nation is largely without resources and without allies, and a nuclear arsenal would be its only negotiating tool — a tool that they could use for food aid, for example.
“North Korean policy was to escalate the crisis of war to justify nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-un was able to convince the international community that nuclear war with the U.S. was a highly likely scenario.”
Also on Kim’s agenda: getting the 30,000 or so U.S. troops currently stationed in South Korea off the Korean peninsula. So far, it appears to be working. Trump has already agreed to put an end to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises on the peninsula.
In exchange, Trump got promises from Kim, described by Thae as “vague,” to stop pursuing nuclear weapons. Whether or not Kim has followed up on that is a matter of dispute; a December 2018 Washington Examiner report claims that North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the site of the next Kim-Trump summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, is also something of a symbolic victory for Kim. That’s because Hanoi was the capitol of the North Vietnamese regime that fought against the U.S. and its allies in South Vietnam and won.