After weeks of talk, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un announced Tuesday that the country will not to fire ballistic missiles at Guam, at least not now. He reserves the right to change his mind if “the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.” His latest update was made on North Korean state run media channels Tuesday.
This news comes on the anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan, and after Jong-un had disappeared from his pubic duties for almost two weeks. These two factors had led many to believe that there would be a launch Tuesday, as is typical when the leader goes into seclusion.
Yet Kim’s move Tuesday deescalates tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. The threats against Guam ranged from direct threats against U.S. interests, to more show-of-force threats that he would land missiles in the waters around the island to demonstrate his abilities.
Donald Trump then upped the tension by telling Korea in no uncertain terms that attacking Guam would end in the destruction of the Korean regime. These threats were backed up by Secretary of Defense Mattis. Japan and Australia also backed the United States.
On Monday, China announced that it would enforce sanctions on North Korea, a decision that would cripple the country’s economy as trade with China amounts to one third of North Korea’s economy.
North Korean state media now reports that the leader told his strategic rocket force he “would watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees.” Kim “said that he wants to advise the U.S. to take into full account gains and losses with clear head whether the prevailing situation is more unfavorable for any party.”
Even though it appears Kim has backed down, his terms are not conciliatory.
“In order to defuse the tensions and prevent the dangerous military conflict on the Korean peninsula, it is necessary for the U.S. to make a proper option first and show it through action,” North Korean state media reported. “The U.S. should stop at once arrogant provocations against the DPRK and unilateral demands and not provoke it any longer.”
Kim added “that if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the latter will make an important decision as it already declared, warning the U.S. that it should think reasonably and judge properly not to suffer shame that it is hit by the DPRK.”
How will this new course of action be handled by Trump and the UN team responsible for the intense sanctions? We’ll see.