25, December 2019
President Donald Trump says that the United States will deal with North Korea “very successfully” after Pyongyang’s warning of a “Christmas gift.”
North Korea has promised a possible “Christmas surprise” missile test if the US does not come to the negotiating table, noting it would not give in to Washington’s pressure since it already has “nothing to lose.”
Pyongyang said the US was dragging out denuclearization negotiations ahead of Trump’s re-election bid next year, noting it was “entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get.”
While US military commanders believe the North’s response could involve the testing of a long-range missile, Trump brushed off the warning, saying maybe the surprise is a “nice present.”
“We’ll find out what the surprise is and we’ll deal with it very successfully,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Tuesday. “We’ll see what happens.”
“Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test,” Trump said. “I may get a nice present from him. You don’t know. You never know.”
Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said at a press conference Friday that the United States was ready “to fight tonight.”
General Mark Milley, who was next to Esper, also said, the US alliance with Japan and South Korea was “prepared to defend the interests of the United States, Japan and South Korea at a moment’s notice.”
Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went on to say that “Korea is one of those places in the world where we’ve always maintained high levels of readiness.”
Meanwhile, China called on the United States Tuesday to take immediate action with regard to the implementation of agreements reached with North Korea during last year’s summit in Singapore.
“China calls on US to take concrete steps asap to deliver what has been agreed in Singapore. We encourage DPRK & US to work out a feasible roadmap for establishing a permanent peace regime & realizing complete denuclearization on the Peninsula,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the People’s Daily in comments relayed on Twitter by the foreign ministry.
The negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been largely stalled since the collapse of a February summit in Hanoi between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim and Trump have already held two official meetings on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. However, their first meeting, the Singapore Summit held in June 2018, concluded with a broadly-worded agreement, and the second one, the Hanoi Summit, held in February, collapsed without an agreement.
The North has been under multiple rounds of harsh sanctions by the UN and the US over its nuclear and missile programs.
Last week, China and Russia proposed the UN Security Council lift some sanctions to break the current deadlock.
A US State Department official, however, responded by saying it was not the time to consider such an action when North Korea was “threatening to conduct an escalated provocation, refusing to meet to discuss denuclearization, and continuing to maintain and advance its prohibited weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.”
Despite the sanctions, Pyongyang has taken several unilateral steps to show its goodwill, including demolishing at least one nuclear test site and agreeing to allow international inspectors into a missile engine test facility.