Flashpoints | Security | East Asia

Trump: North Korea‘s Kim Jong Un Could Lose ’Everything’ If ’Hostile’ Behavior Continues

The U.S. president suggested Kim had much to lose if he pushed too far.

Ankit Panda
Trump: North Korea‘s Kim Jong Un Could Lose ’Everything’ If ’Hostile’ Behavior Continues
Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

In a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday, U.S. President Donald J. Trump suggested that Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, could lose “everything” if he continued to behave in a “hostile way” toward the United States.

Trump’s statement came within a day of North Korea’s Academy of National Defense Science announcing that it had carried out an unspecified but “very important” test at the Sohae Satellite Launching Center on the country’s west coast. The test did not involve the launch of a missile or satellite.

“Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way,” Trump said on Sunday. “He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore.”

“He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November,” the U.S. president added.

Also speaking on Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert C O’Brien warned that Washington had “plenty of tools in the toolkit” should Kim Jong Un not follow through on what the U.S. administration sees as a pledge made last year to give up North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

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In June 2018, in Singapore, Trump and Kim met for the first time — the first-ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. In their joint declaration, Kim agreed to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

North Korea’s interpretation of the word “denuclearization” differs from that of the United States. The Trump administration insists that Kim’s agreement in Singapore was tantamount to a pledge to disarm; North Korea has called on the United States to first abandon its “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang before it would make any concessions on nuclear weapons.

On Sunday, O’Brien also emphasized North Korea‘s potential for economic growth if it were to give up nuclear weapons — long a part of the Trump administration’s messaging toward Pyongyang.

“If North Korea takes a different path than the one it’s promised its people, the people of South Korea, the United States, and the world — Kim Jong Un said that he is going to denuclearize the Korean peninsula — if he does not do that, then we’ll take that into account,” O’Brien said.

Trump and Kim last met this summer for a brief summit at the inter-Korean Demilitarized Zone on June 30. At that summit, they agreed to reconvene working-level talks, which took place unsuccessfully in early October.