North Korean leader Kim Jong Un revealed on New Year’s Eve that he isn’t happy with the United States’ failure to negotiate concessions and is working on a “new strategic weapon” that is linked to the country’s dissatisfaction with America. Donald Trump dismissed the threats, suggesting that both he and Kim Jong Un are representing their respective countries.
“I think he’s a man of his word, so we’re going to find out, but I think he’s a man of this word,” Trump added.
In response, Wendy Sherman, who served under Bill Clinton’s administration as North Korea Policy Coordinator — among other roles — suggested that Trump was playing into Kim Jong Un’s hands, Newsweek reports.
“I think what is different here is that Kim Jong Un has played the president like a Stradivarius violin,” she said to MSNBC’s Frances Rivera on Wednesday.
“He has used the time and the photo-ops to gain credibility internationally, while at the same time gaining time to continue to develop his weapons and indeed probably does have a new strategic weapon, at least on its way to reality.”
Sherman continued to reveal the two most important things she believes can be learned from Kim Jong Un’s comments on his displeasure with the United States’ approach to denuclearization. The first is that the North Korean leader is “signaling” that diplomacy still isn’t out of the question, although he desires either a reduction or elimination of sanctions, which conflicts with Trump’s goal of denuclearization.
The second big takeaway in Sherman’s eyes is that Kim Jong Un understands the dynamics of global politics — including recent events in China, Iraq, and Iran — and is aware that the United States is currently in a “much weaker position” than in the past.
"[Kim Jong Un] is really saying to us, to the world … 'we are in a different point in our history, I'm going to make a difference' but that doesn't mean he's ready to give up his nuclear weapons."
— Wendy Sherman former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs pic.twitter.com/nKrTxJ0DHc
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 12, 2018
The state-run North Korea media outlet Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reportedly said that Kim Jong Un doesn’t have faith in the U.S’s approach to denuclearization talks. According to the outlet, the “hostile” policies that the country is enforcing on North Korea could lead to blowback. The comment comes not long after North Korea issued a threat referring to a “Christmas gift” for the U.S., echoing the previous warning of a “gift” that came as the East Asia country tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in 2017.
In response to the recent threat, Trump appeared unphased, suggesting that the U.S. isn’t afraid of the “surprise,” which the president said will be dealt with “very successfully.”
The most recent round of talks between Trump and Kim Jong Un fell apart after two days when both sides refused to agree on concessions.