North Korea: Donald Trump’s Finger Is on ‘Nuclear Button’

North Korea’s foreign minister says U.S. President Donald Trump’s insult calling leader Kim Jong Un “rocket man” makes “our rocket’s visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more.”

Ri Yong Ho called the American leader “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency” with his finger on the “nuclear button” and declared: “None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission.”

And he told world leaders on Saturday: “In case innocent lives of the U.S. are lost because of this suicide attack, Trump will be held totally responsible.”

Ri’s highly anticipated speech to the General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting fueled the fiery rhetoric between the U.S. president and North Korea’s young leader.

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Of Dotards and Dithyrambs

Many people were surprised when the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, called Donald Trump a “mentally deranged dotard.” Not by his insulting tone, of course, but by his use of the word dotard, which is not exactly in current or everyday English usage, and suggests a larger vocabulary than many native speakers possess.

I was not in the least surprised, however. If there is one thing that Communist regimes did well, it was teach foreign languages—at least at the highest level of their elite schools.

This applied to the North Korean as much as to the other Communist regimes. I learned this during my brief sojourn in North Korea in 1989, in the days when the President-for-Eternity and the present leader’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, were still alive.

I was emerging from the Great People’s Study House in Pyongyang, which, architecturally speaking, is a hybrid of pagoda and Fascist mausoleum. Stretched out before it was one of those vast empty spaces in which the regime holds its interminable Busby Berkeley cum Nuremberg rallies. As the Marquis de Custine said of the vast open spaces of St. Petersburg, in his great book Russia in 1839, a crowd (meaning a crowd that gathered there spontaneously, rather than under government direction) would be a revolution.

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North Korea: Pacific Nuke Test Threat; New U.S. Sanctions

We are a long way from hamburgers. In a bout of blistering invective rare even for cantankerous North Korea, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has taken personal aim at Donald Trump, vowing to “surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire,” in response to the U.S. President’s threat during his inaugural speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to “totally destroy” the Hermit Kingdom if it did not halt its weapons program. (A “dotard” is a mentally frail old person.)

Kim’s tirade came just as Trump signed a new executive order ramping up sanctions against the secretive regime, authorizing the U.S. Treasury to target firms and financial institutions conducting business there. It also spotlights sharply deteriorating relations with the Stalinist state in stark contrast to Trump’s offer during his campaign to meet the 33-year-old Kim “for a hamburger” and to cut “a good deal” over halting his weapons program.


North KoreaKim Jong Un Calls President Trump ‘Mentally Deranged’ After Threat to Destroy North Korea

But confronted with Pyongyang’s escalating missile and nuclear tests — it has tested 22 missiles and its sixth nuclear bomb this year alone — Trump has resorted to the Obama administration’s tactics of attempting to isolate the regime through U.N. sanctions. The former reality TV star has, however, added some trademark bluster, personally mocking Kim as “Rocketman” both on Twitter and before world leaders at the U.N. “Rocketman is on a suicide mission,” Trump told the General Assembly.

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Donald Trump Announces New Economic Sanctions on North Korea

(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday aiming to tighten an economic noose around North Korea, days after he threatened to “totally destroy” the country if forced to defend the United States or its allies.

The new order enables the U.S. to sanction individual companies and institutions that finance trade with North Korea. It adds to U.S.-led international pressure against Kim Jong Un’s expanded missile and nuclear testing program that has stoked fears of nuclear war and dominated the president’s debut at this week’s U.N. General Assembly.

The announcement came as Trump met in New York with leaders from close U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, the nations most imperiled by North Korea’s threats.

Trump said the order would also disrupt other trade avenues for North Korea in an effort to halt its nuclear weapons program. The president said “tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now.”

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North Korea: The Kims’ Cheat and Retreat Game

It is too early to guess how the latest storm triggered by North Korea’s behavior might end. Will this lead to a “surgical” strike on North Korean nuclear sites by the United States? Or will it cause “a global catastrophe” as Vladimir Putin, never shy of hyperbole, warns?

If past experience is an indicator, the latest crisis is likely to fade away as did the previous six crises triggered by North Korea since the 1970s. Under the Kim dynasty, North Korea, in an established pattern of behavior, has been an irritant for the US, not to mention near and not-so-near neighbors such as South Korea, Japan, and even China and Russia.

By one reading, that pattern, otherwise known as “cheat-and-retreat” could be laughed at as a sign of weakness disguised as strength.

However, if only because nuclear weapons are involved, one would have to take the provocation seriously. The Kim dynasty has relied on that ambiguity as part of its survival strategy for decades. The strategy has worked because the Kims did not overreach, sticking to strict rules of brinkmanship.

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FDR’s ‘Rattlesnake’ Rule and the North Korean Threat

“When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him.” By these words in a Sept. 11, 1941, fireside chat, Franklin Roosevelt authorized US warships to fire first against Nazi naval vessels, which he called “the rattlesnakes of the Atlantic.”

Roosevelt’s order applied whenever German or Italian ships entered “waters of self-defense” necessary to protect the US, including those surrounding US outposts on Greenland and Iceland.

Uttered 60 years to the day before 9/11, and less than three months before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt’s words still resonate. North Korea’s sixth nuclear test last weekend, along with its significantly increased ballistic-missile testing, establishes that Pyongyang is perilously close to being able to hit targets across the continental United States with nuclear warheads, perhaps thermonuclear ones.

The Nazi threat to US shipping, both normal commercial traffic and war supplies destined for Great Britain, was undeniably significant, and the Axis powers’ broader totalitarian threat was existential. Nonetheless, right up to Dec. 7, 1941, many American leaders urged caution to avoid provoking the Axis and thereby risking broader conflict. Pearl Harbor followed.

In his chat, Roosevelt observed that others had “refused to look the Nazi danger squarely in the eye until it actually had them by the throat.” We shouldn’t commit that mistake today. North Korea’s behavior, and its lasting desire to conquer the South, have created the present crisis.

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North Korea: We will reduce America to ‘ashes and darkness’

A North Korean state agency on Thursday afternoon published a statement threatening to use nuclear weapons on the United States and Japan.

The statement comes after the UN Security Council on Monday unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea.

“The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the statement read. “Let us reduce the U.S. mainland into ashes and darkness. Let us vent our spite with mobilization of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now.”

The statement also calls for the disbandment of the United Nations, calling it a group “of unprincipled countries.”

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