President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 24, 2018, in Washington.

President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 24, 2018, in Washington. Evan Vucci/AP

WTF: A Few Morning Thoughts on US-North Korea Relations

Kim Jong Un doesn’t need to dance with Trump. He’s got his own nuclear weapons.

I woke up in foggy coastal California this morning to the sounds of toddlers wanting breakfast, and Twitter. Pre-coffee, pre-shower, and not without trepidation, I lifted my phone to see 20-plus alerts. North Korea had blown their nuclear test tunnels! Trump cancelled the nuclear summit. WTF.

North Korea invited about twenty foreign journalists to witness the destruction of the test tunnels at North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site. After a long dusty journey on plane, train, bus, and foot the journalists reported seeing explosions at Tunnels 2, 3, and 4. Tom Cheshire of Sky News called in to report, “There was a huge explosion. You just could feel it. Dust came at you, the heat came at you. It was extremely loud.

We don’t yet have the footage, because the reporters are without satellite phones or internet access. They are still in North Korea on an even more bizarre trip home next to their North Korean minders who are astonished. Hours after the North Koreans collapsed their test tunnels at the nuclear test site, Trump announced he was jilting their Supreme Leader.

In a winding, childish letter, Trump managed to: one, downgrade Kim Jong Un from Supreme Leader to Chairman in formal communication; two, sound like his feelings got hurt; and, three, invoke God to announce that his nuclear weapons are “so massive and powerful.”

He also reminded Kim that he got three American hostages out of the deal, without mentioning the American reporters currently there, ending with “please do not hesitate to call me or write.” Mmmkay. Did someone’s logistics team get lonely in Singapore? Setting aside visions of Trump staring out the window of the Oval Office on Prom Night, what does it mean?

Well, now that I’ve had a cup of coffee, I can tell you that’s it’s not great. Kim Jong Un doesn’t need to dance with Trump. He’s got his own nuclear weapons, and as he said in his New Year’s address, North Korea is open for business. Kim is “satisfied” with their nuclear weapons program, and they are now turning their attention to economics.

Kim Jong Un doesn’t even need the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site anymore. He’s just got to produce more of what he already has. Satellite-imagery wonks like me are going to turn their attention to activity at sites in North Korea indicating more fissile material, more missile production, and more of those cute indigenous trucks to carry their missiles around.

Kim can fire off a few insults from the comforts of one of his villas and just switch to mass production. He will still seek economic opportunities, and sleep soundly at night with the self-righteous belief that his “treasured nuclear sword” will keep him from dying a Muammar Gaddafi death.

Now the world turns to Xi Jinping as the grown-up of the situation. He’s got a stake in keeping the status quo in the region, and he’s going to do everything he can to calm it down. He doesn’t want John Bolton stirring things up with military options, he doesn’t want more ballistic-missile defenses pointed at China, and he really doesn’t want North Korea setting off an atmospheric nuclear test on the tip of a missile.

Me? I want to go home to my toddlers and ditch the crybabies engaging in cross-ocean tantrums.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.