President Trump’s tough talk seems to have quelled the anti-American sentiment coming out of Pyongyang, but Monday’s joint drills with South Korea could once again stoke the fires.
North Korea has been adamant about admonishing the United States for decades, but “supreme” leader Kim Jong Un has ramped up his rhetoric in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration, hoping to drag the United States into an international row over nuclear weapons.
Kim Jong Un has specifically targeted the United States in a number of propaganda pieces in recent weeks, including a litany of posters released recently that depict D.C. being decimated by North Korea’s purported atomic arsenal. These images became public just weeks after North Korea threatened to launch missiles “at” U.S. territory Guam, prompting President Donald Trump to remark that the reclusive nation would be met with “fire and fury” should they so much as look at Guam the wrong way.
Luckily, Trump’s tough talk seemed to work, with Kim capitulating to the U.S. that he would sit back and observe for a while longer before making any military decisions. One caveat, however, was that the joint air drills between America and South Korea would need to stop.
Come Monday, those drills resume.
“Amid all this back and forth, the U.S. and South Korean military will simulate warfare with North Korea from Aug. 21 to 31, well aware that North Korea could respond with another missile test.“’Over the course of the next two weeks I expect tensions to escalate,’ said Scott A. Snyder, a Korea specialist with the Council on Foreign Relations who previously was the Asia Foundation’s representative in Seoul. ‘This is always a sensitive issue, but it is more hair-trigger as the North Koreans are very sensitive to the likely additional nuclear-capable aircraft flyovers.’
“The United States says biannual exercises are defensive in nature, but North Korea and China have long criticized them as a provocation and an affront to regional security.“’There certainly will be some reaction,’ said J.D. Williams, a retired Marine colonel and defense policy researcher at the RAND Corporation in California. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if North Korea conducted some kind of missile launch — not a test but a defiant demonstration of might.”