President Trump spent a good part of his UN General Assembly speech threatening North Korea, declaring that the US may “have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” While this was seen largely as an attempt to pressure the UN to do more against North Korea, the impact will likely be felt far beyond the general assembly.
Such threats, being repeatedly regularly, must necessarily be seen by North Korean officials as vindication of their development of a nuclear arsenal. They’ve long seen a retaliatory capability as the key to preventing a US attack, and President Trump’s constant talk of launching such an attack if anything may be pushing North Korea to expand that arsenal.
Indeed, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has made clear his goal is to have a defensive capability that totally precludes the possibility of an American attack. Nothing Trump said gave the impression that there was an alternate route to prevent being attacked by the US.
Least of all diplomacy. President Trump railed at a “twisted regime” and declared Kim “suicidal.” He’s spurned all pushes by the international community to consider diplomacy with North Korea, and after today it seems even less likely the US and North Korea might end up at the negotiating table.
This is a problem which is only mounting as the tensions grow, as US officials continue to talk up the idea that the time for diplomacy has passed, and North Korea sees itself increasingly dependent on mutually assured destruction to keep the US threats from turning into outright war.