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Trump still quiet about how to deal with Kim Jong-un

President said, ‘I don’t want to telegraph what I’m doing or thinking’
Apr 19,2017
U.S. President Donald Trump has been keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to North Korea in what appears to be a strategic move to pressure the regime.

“I don’t want to telegraph what I’m doing, or what I’m thinking,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Tuesday regarding U.S. action toward North Korea’s nuclear program. “I’m not like other administrations, where they say, we’re going to do this in four weeks, and that doesn’t work that way.”

He continued, “I hope there’s going to be peace, but they’ve been talking with this gentleman for a long time,” in reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Trump recalled former President Bill Clinton and former President Barack Obama’s efforts to deal with the North, pointing out that they’ve “all been outplayed” by Kim dynasty.

When asked by a reporter what kind of message he had for Kim Jong-un, Trump simply said Monday at the White House that the North Korean leader has “gotta behave,” without elaborating. Trump does not have a “red line” when it comes to North Korea, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

In a press briefing Monday, Spicer said, “I don’t think that you’re going to see the president drawing red lines in the sand, but I think that the action that he took in Syria shows that, when appropriate, this president will take decisive action.”

He said, “drawing red lines hasn’t really worked in the past.”

President Trump, according to Spicer, “holds his cards close to the vest, and you’re not going to see him telegraphing how he’s going to respond to any military or other situation going forward.”

But Spicer however said, on the comparisons to the missile strike on a Syrian air base and dropping its largest non-nuclear “MOAB” bomb on ISIS tunnels and caves in Afghanistan, “please don’t read too much into that in terms of trying to make an analogy on the action.”

Instead, he said the results of Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s summit at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month “are paying off.” He added, “There’s a lot of economic and political pressure points that I think China can utilize, and we’ve been very encouraged with the direction in which they’re going.”

Spicer’s remarks left open the option for Washington to take military action if necessary, and as he said, it “would not be a smart strategy to lay it all out in public.”

When asked if Trump will act alone on North Korea or whether the U.S. Congress will be involved in the process, Spicer said, “I think he’s going to utilize the powers under Article II of the Constitution.” Article II, Section II puts the president as commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces.

He said that with the action on Syria, Trump “made sure that members of Congress were notified of his action in a very, very short amount of time.”

The Trump administration has repeated that all options are on the table, which includes the possibility of military action, or a pre-emptive strike, if its current strategy of maximum pressure and engagement toward North Korea, namely through China, falls through.

In response to North Korea’s fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9, the Obama administration deployed two nuclear-capable supersonic B-1B Lancer strategic bombers, dubbed “swans of death,” four days later in a show of force against Pyongyang’s provocation.

Likewise, after North Korea’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 4, 2016, Washington deployed its B-52 Stratofortress bomber and F-22 Raptors.

However, in contrast, the Trump administration this time around made a show of force ahead of possibility of further ballistic missile tests or a sixth nuclear test by North Korea by its military action in Syria on April 6 and Afghanistan a week later on April 13. It also deployed its nuclear-powered Carl Vinson Strike Group, which had been en route to Australia, toward the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stated twice during his three-day visit to Seoul, which concluded Tuesday, that the “era of strategic patience is over,” including in a joint press briefing with South Korea’s Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is acting president.

BY CHAE BYUNG-GUN, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]