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Editorial: Trump’s speech in South Korea sends strong warning to North

U.S. President Donald Trump issued a strong warning over the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in his recent speech at South Korean National Assembly.


Trump stated that one of the reasons he had come to South Korea was “to deliver a message directly to the leader of the North Korean dictatorship.” Speaking in Seoul, just 50 kilometers away from the military demarcation line separating the North and South, Trump gave a message that was significant in terms of clearly outlining his administration’s policy against Pyongyang.


The day before his speech, Trump engaged in talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and the two leaders agreed to exert the maximum level of pressure on North Korea to persuade the state to give up its nuclear and missile development programs. Ahead of his visit, Trump agreed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo to collaborate on the issue.


The talks between the leaders were significant from the standpoint of shoring up their cohesiveness. In his address, Trump stressed that he wanted “peace through strength.” He also declared, “America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it,” warning the North against testing the United States. He indicated that the United States would not refrain from military action against North Korea in order to obstruct the North’s possession of nuclear weapons.


At the same time, while Trump indicated that there is no room for compromise if North Korea continues on a path of nuclear development, he said that if the country gives up its nuclear weapons and missiles, America would “offer a path to a much better future.”


Trump also indicated that he was not necessarily seeking a change in the regime, though he unveiled a harsh view of human rights violations in North Korea. One could say he delivered a message of firmness but also of flexibility to the North’s leader Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers Party of Korea.

For Kim, the most important thing is the continuation of his regime.


North Korea has stressed that if it doesn’t possess nuclear weapons, then it could be attacked by the United States, and the regime could be brought down. This line of thinking is on par with the histories of Libya and Iraq, whose administrations were overthrown following attacks from the U.S.


However, possessing nuclear weapons does not guarantee the continuation of Kim’s regime. Abandoning nuclear weapons, rather, is a wise path that would ensure its prolongation. Kim must take Trump’s warnings seriously.


Collaboration between Japan, the United States and South Korea, is fundamental in the approach to North Korea. For this reason, South Korea’s decisions to invite a former wartime “comfort woman” to a state banquet at the Blue House and serving up “Dokdo shrimp” taken from waters near the disputed island known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan are questionable, as the moves could be seen as a slight against Japan. At a news conference in Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga expressed his displeasure at those decisions.


It is important to avoid engaging in actions that merely benefit North Korea as it seeks to disrupt the alignment of the three countries.

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