The United States continues to send wildly conflicting signs on their intentions toward North Korea, with President Trump following up yesterday’s assurances that no war would hapen so long as the situation is “manageable” with a warning that “there is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.”
Trump continued to suggest that China might be able to resolve the situation, saying that President Xi “certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death.” In the meantime, he said he “hopes” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is rational, despite Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying just the day prior that the US is confident Kim makes rational decisions.
Speaking of Tillerson, yesterday’s talk of patience and keeping North Korea “manageable” for as long as possible appears to have been replaced today with calls to impose “painful” new measures on the country, while warning against showing patience because time will “run out.”
Tillerson also gave a vague mention to the possibility of direct talks with North Korea, despite having previously declared the diplomacy a failure, though he also made clear that any talks were conditioned on a series of unspecified measures North Korea would have to concede to.
Even then, Tillerson downplayed the chances of North Korea agreeing to give up its nuclear program and stop all actions the US find objectionable, saying he believes the international community needs to impose a whole new round of diplomatic and economic sanctions against them.
With the past few weeks of rhetoric and military buildup around the Korean Peninsula already fueling concerns about the US attacking North Korea outright, all this talk of new measures, coupled with the insistence that military operation is still on the table, suggest those concerns aren’t going away any time soon.